Skip to main content

Full text of "The Incompatible Allies A Memoir History Of German Soviet Relations 1918-1941"

See other formats


THE INCOMPATIBLE ALLIES 

A MEMOIR jnSTORY OF 
CERNf AN SOVIET RELAnONS 

*918-1941 



^ ' o — 

TBR ktACKntt-AM COMPA^TT 
K«W TMK CBKUOO 
DAtur iTLAWT* iAK r»Awa»c(» 

THE WACMIlXAH COMPAKY 
OP CANADA UMITED 
TOtOMTO 


GU&TAV HUGER 
ALFRED G. MEYER 


The Incompatible Allies 


A MEMOIR-HlSTORy OF 
GERMAN SOVIET RELATIONS 
1918-1941 


NEW YORK THE MACMILLAN COMPANY • WS 



COPYRIGHT, 195J, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

AH rights reserved— no part of ihi* book may be 
reproduced m any form without permission in writ 
mg from (he publuher. except by a reviewer who 
wishes CO quote brief passages in connection with s 
review written for ukIusioo in magazine or newspaper. 

Fint Pnnttng 


rUNTEO IN 1HE UNITED CTATES OF AMERICA 



To 

MARIE HILCER 
and 

EVA R. MEYER 



PREFACE 


Wniing memoiis has become an art m which professional soaa] 
scientists have increasingly lent a helping hand One recent example 
which the authors of this work follow in stepping forward as collab- 
orators IS that of Henry L Siimson and McGeorge Bundy, who 
jointly WTote On Active Sennce in Peace and War ^ 

The aim of such joint authorship is to combine academic Itnowl 
edge with personal experience so as to give a personal touch to his 
tonography and to make personal reminiscences as useful as possible 
to the professional scholar The authors of the present work wished 
to accomplish the dual usk of wTiting penonal memoirs which would 
at the same time constitute a history of German Soviet relations 
The benefits derived by the academic historian through prolonged 
discussions with a person who has participated in making history are 
obvious, particularly if a young scholar is fortunate enough to team 
up with as knowledgeable, urbane, alert, and friendly a person as 
Gustav Hilger 

In the present case the historian’s task was to act as the memoir 
wnter’s second self, to ask questions, raise challenges, construct a 
framework for the narrative, and provide the background informa 
tion necessary to tie the story together He considered himself to be 
Mr Hilger’s academic conscience whose purpose it would be to prod 
his memory, to elicit information he might have deemed irrelevant, 
to make him think out problems and puzzles that would not have 
presented themselves to him Throughout, he endeavored to make 
Mr Hilger reveal himself, his actions, motives ideas, and general 
outlook, because Mr Hilger was representative of an all important 
group among those who helped to make German foreign policy m the 
twenties and thirties 

Efforts m this direction could not avoid meeting certain difficulties 
1 New York Harper & Brothers 1918 

Vii 



vut 


Prtface 

There is a limit to the extent to which any man will talk frankly and 
freely about his life, even when prodded by an aademic conscience 
The most thorough research in documents and published accounts 
will not always enable the scholar to dieck his collaborators story 
for accuracy, so that distonions, otnissions, and inaccuracies are 
bound to remain There are. moreover, some opinions, incidents, and 
other matters which Mr Hilger, out of cxinsideration for many ol 
his friends decided not to reveal even though he sometimes felt free 
to discuss them with his co-auihor Sudi reticence had, of course, to 
be respected 

A few VfXirds about the procedure that was followed tn writing this 
book. The authors spent several months collecting and assembling 
Mr Hilger s notes, correspondence, and other raw niatenal for the 
memous, and reading published roaieiials Both authors then began 
wilting independently, submiiung then drafts to each other for com 
ment and criticism The cooperation on every part of the bool was 
80 dose that it would be very difficult to distribute ocdits for any of 
the different secuons In general, ii was only natural that Mr. Hilger 
would contribute (hose parts urhich dealt pritoatily with personalities 
and penonal dealings, uhile the treacment of broader political de 
vebpments was, m the mam. allotted (o hii co-author Even there, 
however, the latter took care to present the broad problems w thff 
appeared to Afr Hilger at the time, his aim being to bnng out the 
considerations that v*ere underlying German foreign policy toward 
the Soviet Union The book was to be a revealing self portrait of a 
diplomat and his enviromnem For ihis reason the authors deaded 
to use the fint penon, singular, throughout The omission of a bib 
liogtaphy, too, results from the desire to give the work as much as 
possible the personal Bavor of memoirs 
The present work would not have been possible without the active 
interest and help of a great number of people Thanks to the drive 
of Mr George F Kennan and Mr John Gardner, the Carnegie Cor 
poration of New York by a genoous grant enabled the authors to 
devote their tunc to this work The grant was administered by the 
Russian Research Center, Harvard University, which in its turn pro- 
vided great conveniences and services We owe deep gratitude to 
Professor Clyde KJuckliohn, who has read the entire manuscript, to 
Mn Helen W Parsons feu- the cheerful aid she has given as office 
manager of the Russian Reseaidi Center, and to the many members 



IX 


Preface 

of the staff of the Russian Reseatch Center who have contributed 
their views, suggestions, and advice Others who have read all or pan 
of the manuscript include E. H Carr, Fnti T Epstein, Alex Erlich, 
Carl J Friedrich, Barnngton Moore, Jr, and Carmel Oflie Among 
Mr Hilger s friends, Paul Scheffer and Moritz Schlesinger have been 
particularly kind in discussing the manuscript and offenng valuable 
advice Mrs ^^arle Hilger has helped to eliminate many a slip or 
inaccuracy She has shown great patience when the work on this book 
took hold of her husband, and she has been a generous and graaous 
hostess to his collaborator Mrs Meyer has borne her husband's pro- 
longed spells of absence without complaint and has been a constant 
source of strength and courage to him 
Although this study vsas made possible by funds granted by Car 
negie Corporation of Ne%v York, that Corporation is not, hotvever, to 
be understood as approving by virtue of its grant any of the state 
menis made or views expressed therein 

A G M 

Cambridcc, Massachusetts 
November, 1952 



CONTENTS 


PAC£ 

PREFACE Vll 

I PRELUDE 1 

II RELIEF AND RECONSTRUCTION WORK. 27 

III TOWARD THE RESUMPTION OF NORMAL GERMAN 

SOVIET RELATIONS 49 

IV PERSONALITIES AND PROBLEMS OF THE RAPALLO 

ERA 84 

V THE RAPALLO ERA I26 

VI GERMAN SOVIET ECONOMIC RELATIONS 1921-1928 165 
VII MILITARY COLLABORATION 1919-1930 187 

VIII FROM THE TREATY OF BERLIN TO THE RISE OF 

NATIONAL SOCIALISM 209 

IX GERMANY AND RUSSU 1933-1958 25O 

X NAZI SOVIET COLLABORATION 288 

XI CONCLUSION 341 

343 


INDEX 



ILLUSTRATIONS 


rAONG PACE 


CEORGIV CHICHERIN 112 

KARL RADER 1 1 3 

LITVINOV AND COUNT BROCKDORFF RANTZAU SHAKING 
HANDS AFTER THE SIGNING OF THE GERMAN SOVIET 

COMMERCIAL TRJEAT-y, OCTOBER 12, 1925 144 

THE DISTANCE BET\VEEN \ON SEECKT AND CHICHERIN 
DURING THEIR LUNCHEON MEETING 145 

COUNT VON DER SCHULENBURC, LEAVING THE CHANCERY 
OF THE GERMAN EMBASSY IN MOSCOW 272 

MOLOTOV IS GREETED IN BERLIN BY VON RIDBENTROP, 

ON NOVEMBER 11, 1940 273 

VON RIBBENTROP, SIGNING THE GERMAN SOVIET TREATY 
OF FRIENDSHIP 3O4 

VON RIBBENTROP AND STAUN POSE AT THE CONCLUSION 
OF THE GERMAN SOVIET TREATY OF FRIENDSHIP 305 



I PRELUDE 


I. A MINISTER IS MURDERED 

Shortly before fi\e o'clock in the morning of June 22, 1911, Molotov 
and I shook hands for the last time and, together with Friedrich 
Wemci Count von der Schulcnburg, 1 Uft the Kremlin, knossing 
that I should neser again enter its ancient gates I shall never forget 
Molotov's draun and tired face as he exchanged the last customary 
courtesy of the handshake uith us, labonng hard to conceal his inner 
emotion I myself \sas greatly perturbed by gloomy forebodings It 
was not just an episodic parting, u was the end of my whole life’s 
work, I knew that it was also the end of Germany Count von der 
Schulenburg, the German ambassador, had just made a formal $tat^ 
ment to the Soviet foreign minister announcing Hitler's invasion of 
Russia 

As we rode back to the embassy in the early dawn, I eagerly drank 
tn the sight of my native Moscow, which 1 should never agam behold 
And, not unlike the proverbial drowning man who in a split second 
sees his entire life unroll once more before his mind, I recalled epi 
sode after episode from the ftse decades 1 had spent, with few inter- 
ruptions, in that fascinating aiy Many a house we passed, had it 
possessed the power of speech, could have told stones about my life, 
so rich in experiences, human contacts, and excitement One fa 
mihar street turned my thoughts back to an afternoon almost exactly 
twenty three years before that ominous June 22, 1941 Saturday, 
July 6, 1918, had been one of those bnlliant days with which nature 
compensates the inhabitants of Mosrow for the brief duration of 
the northern summer, eight months had passed since the October 
Revolution of 1917 m which the Bolsheviks had seized power In 
tending to spend the week end with my wife and children in our 
dacha (summer cottage) in the country, 1 had packed a traveling bag 



2 


hcompauble Athes 

onmyw™trthrm"lLdM“ ^ J“' 

came running after me breathle^ ^ suddenly a ajileague of mine 
minister to Russia had 'jus. been mu^toed ' 

GeZ;re:ra„rr'RLa:.rj;^ 

had signed the peace treaty of B ' Socialist Republic 

dictated by die Lrl S b .lefTf^tL^^'^' " ™ 

derived from u Tvould be ereaw ^ ^ 
imposed on the defeated *" « the conditions 

himself constrained to accent «*««« Nevertheless, Lenin felt 

tion even within his own partv hi “gainst serious opposi 

was m urgent need of a breather Bolshevik regime 

“wS“r“ rr --p' ■» 

Count MifbachHarff'aTO^""’'' *' “f Brest Litovsl, 

Soviet government included KtjonalT^r '^P"' 

tory as outsutidmg Lenin *^ncot.i''''!i his 

movement, Troisly who hid 1° '«*■■ »' the Bolshevik 

htder hts spell even though V Ttlf" 

statesman Chicherm, who w„h h' "f* ^ 

tiered invaluable service to Sonet * 1 ” ‘''“'"ttieal mmd ten 
‘®"‘^tng men and women Faane^If'^ Poiicy, and many other 
■mtuter „a, this average d,p^2 f" “ 
hkoble, and a valuable 'human be. 't” 

tha^ training Beyond that h '’n' h^ti 

^“^'hovefiltedhimL^frffi "■h him nothing 

cow Ncuiec did he know Se co™ -ruling him in Mos 
drf h mastoo die Russian lanL 2 ^ "" '■'= “> ™lt. -or 

revtln?' had W ““ ''' Efficiently familiar 

L« ch Htt tame would “ *c Bolshevik 

fate iosen him to he .he V.”™ h “tlay had no. 

centlv raging m Russia betw struggles which at 

wereLm™' '1I“ and the Lett Bolsheviks, just re- 

COKIU ®*"”'“cksaga.„sta^ Revolutionaries who 

conclusion of the peace of B?rLCv '2“‘ ■" h'ntn-s polices, the 
Lople ?h^' •B' ccvolnno: t '’"'C held L Itealy .„ 

w^uM h attassinalion of Uie Ce ^ '°r the Russian 

Be dte surest means oltvoTyT LT'""’ 'Bought, 

"Bg the Soviet Republic once 



Prelude 


3 


more m ^va^ with Gennany and of thus making the position of the 
Bolsheviks untenable On Saturday, July 6, 1918, they proceeded to 
put their plan into execution 

The German mission at that time was situated in a quiet side street 
in Moscow’s Arbat quarter The luxurious palace had belonged to 
the Russian sugar magnate Berg, but the victorious Bolsheviks had 
declared it the piopcny of the triumphant proleiarial In the spring 
of 1918 It had been given to the German government for its diplo- 
matic representation In size and in the magnificence of its interior 
furnishing the Berg palace surpassed almost all the houses of its 
kind then in hfoscow, a statement that means much, for the luxury 
with v.hich the representatives of the rising Russian bourgeoisie 
surrounded themselves was proverbial Ever since the nineties of 
the last century, it had far exceeded the stjle of life of the old Rus 
sian nobility which had yielded its place to the third estate of in 
dustnalists and merchants after the emancipation of the peasants m 
1861 Enormous fortunes were concentrated m the hands of families 
who had a monopolistic hold on the trade in articles of consumption 
demanded by a population of 170000000 and who arbitrarily deter 
rained prices for grain, textiles sugar, tea, and so on They openly 
manifested their power and wealth in a manner which served to 
emphasize more than ever the social antagonism which had existed 
m Russia for ages 

Lunch, for which the minister daily invited the members of his 
personal staff and other prominent Germans tetnpOTarily in Moscow, 
had just ended Some of the guests had already left the house when 
two men rang the bell at the main gate of die mission They told 
the footman who opened the door that they were emissaries of the 
Cheka, the Extraordinary Commission for the Struggle Against 
Counter Revolution, Sabotage, and Speculation and that they had 
orders to talk to the minister personally in a matter of great im 
portance They produced identification cards, confirming their state- 
ments, signed by the head of the Cheka Felix Dzerzhinsky, and were 
admitted The cards had been forged Only the names under which 
Blumkin and Andreyev gained access to the mission were genuine 
The two men were led through the hall into an anteroom whose 
walls were covered with precious tapestries, and then through a 
huge dance hall into a drawing room With its priceless Oriental 
rugs, its wall covering of crimson silk, and its heavy curtains of gold 



4 


brocade, ihe room „ ^ IxcompalM, Alh„ 

Eastern potentate On the mU “'“ble setting for an 

sofa stood behind a table whrch a low 

ment work was so heavy that an”™,? " ' '°P 

“ovod r, A chair was standing a, Te ™ 7“?’’"“® “““ ™‘ have 
other to one side of with m back ' T 'h' ‘able, and an 

a Lieutenant Mueller. re?i'vrf ■" t-ster’s aide, 

tab e E,un.|„„ iiave s?^ev^ T to the 

Idled eye of an experienced at once with the 

CToss from the sofa, with ihe wmrfnw’ 

**' the sofa in ^ Consequently, the 

small end of the table ’hatr J,' the 

at the? ‘’"''8"' 'tom Bltimkin’,'*? ^"‘•t=yev, who until 
vantaL "oot leadTO?’ ?' = ohatr that stood 

and ^ survey the hall ad' tlance hall From that 

After r ‘ '™"' yttttl 'neltued h n from the build 

a ’'■'“f't and Mueller ha7 " ° high grille of wought iron 
sofa 8°™?*"““’''' "'tned to be**owri™ *0 Russian, and 

P-rpot o?h?w“‘'' ■'“■“'d.a.e m:rfn“ 'h' -f P-lows of die 

he had said he h’fd "> be awaum „?? Anything about the 

takincr la. ^ ^'nportant person i ^ minister for whom 

imer. o?,?'?^ h- lasVg„es^.'?", 7 ' ”“-80 The latter was 
emissaries of SetUne person ^ minutes 

the ^'^^°rdinaiy Commission 
short exrhun ^e at which Anrfrn ^ entered the room 
htn's 1 ef meetings, sat “““ 

Elumktnop d "'""h'emp.ycha.ronElum 

mTSau^^ 'he minister dial 

would be pleas d '* so he 

■=r would Mly ex7''?' ‘h't before h?^ government 
of war was a vp wish The law#. ** f minis 

^ >^tant cousin frcan prisoner 

*^rotestant branch of the 



Prelude 5 

family {he himself %vas Catholic) Noertheless, he would be grateful 
if everything possible were done to relieve the man’s lot 

Blumkin then declared that his office had ordered him to inform 
the minister that the Cheka had uncovered a terrorist plan to murder 
him He had brought papcn, he said, tvhich would give the count 
particulars about the plot and would convince him that he must be 
very careful So saying, Blumkm put his right hand into his brief 
case, drew a pistol from it. stood up and with lightning rapidity 
fired three shots, turning the weapon fint toward the minister and 
then toward his twocollaboraiors All three of the shots missed None 
of those present vsas even wounded 

Disputes later flared up about what happened in tlie subsequent 
seconds How was it possible that the count s aides had not thrown 
themselves on the assassin m an attempt to disarm him? Blame vvas 
heaped particularly upon Lieutenant Nfueller, a giant of more than 
sue feeL Later, m attempting to solve the problem, I repeatedly 
tried to reconstruct the situation 1 sat down on the sofa and found 
that the light coming m through die windows was blinding Per 
sons sitting on the sofa sank into its soft pillows Moreover, any 
attempt to move the table behind which Rieiler and Mueller had 
barricaded themselves would have been in vain Even after over 
coming the shock of the first second, the ministers aides were at a 
disadvantage because they did not have sufficient freedom to move 
Count Mirbach had jumped up at the first shot He ran behind 
Blumkin to get out of the room, and was just about to run the length 
of the hall, obviously attempting to reach rooms m the back of the 
house, when Andreyev, who until now had sal without moving at the 
door to the hall, sent one bullet after him from a small caliber pistol 
The bullet entered the back of the mmisiei s head and came out at 
the nose He collapsed on the spot and was dead m a few moments * 
As Count Mirbach collapsed and residents of the house, alarmed 
I The puddle of blood which fonoed cm the hard wood floor of the hall left 
a stain which could noi be removed in spue of all eflorts Therefore those who 
had been near Ihe scene of the enme in 1918 could pin point the exact spot at 
which the victim had breathed his last even years afterward When Italy 

recognired the Soviet government in 1924 the house was given to her embassy 
which formed one of the centers of soaal life in the hfoscow diplomatic corps 
Though m the course of seventeen years t participated in many a festivity there 
I was always consaous of the stain on the floor over which others danced in 
blissful Ignorance 



6 


bv th^ I, . incompatible Allies 

which damlged^he explosion shook the hall 

<=t.he.rframi I. r”* »-<iowpa„« 
had hurled into the hall in ordprf which the assassins 

Sight They jumped out of a mind “"fusion and secure their 
and fled a ma.Lg Z InZ »'= grille, 

had not yet regained their comDm”“' ®at the Germans 

already turned the comer and dL '’d“ '"’■“‘s"*' car had 

streets “f* •'■sappeared tn the maze of Moscow s 

2 the AFTERMATH 

The assassination of the German „ 

Surreetion staged during die Sm *' '"S''a' for an tn 

Revolutionary party Um,| L«t Ln'"\"’®'’‘ *“a''St 

had been shared by the Bolshevik ri'h’.r?'" State 

nonanes After the conclusion ot tht ^^cialist Revolu 
■mo opposttton and were tolerated '^0 fatter had gone 

their revolt put an end to toto'^ “r" 

'‘"derastateofs.ege Herstreei?, days Moscow was 

ever, and all travel into and out M vigilantly than 

™ no trip to our dacha for me thaf ^ Prohibited There 

«ek, abont two hundred pel^ntf'rj Wtthtn the next two 
the assasi.nat.on and the ZZecZ ‘Z ““hough 

ttonarte, were ,o closely iZZ ZT Socahst Revolu 

whether dte shootings Le Zam 1" " "> t'"""B”“h 

sination or m punishment for ih the Germans for the 

For the Bclshevtks die si.uT. '"sumction 

^nm s attitude clearly shr,J^ ^ anticipated 
paihv tmssion to expfess i,„ ““ ““rder, he appeared 

p4y With hnn were Jacob Sv^1^L“r ““ governments sym 

“tive Commutee toppedSemnreT ehanman of the Cen 

e enure Sonet hierarchy and was 



Prelude 


7 


thus officially the head of the state. Lev Karakhan, the second Vice 
Commissar for Foreign Affairs, and Donch Bruyevich, the secretary 
of the Council of Peoples Commissars, as the Soviet cabinet was 
then called In marked contrast to Foreign Commissar Chicherin, 
the first Soviet official to appear at the mission, Lenin was com 
pletely composed and master over his nerves With cold p>olitene$s he 
expressed, in German, his and his governments syrnipathy to Dr 
Riezler 

In spite of the political expediency v-hich the Soviet authorities 
saw in making amends for the assassination there were certain ideo- 
logical concessions they were unwilling to make Thus they staunchly 
refused to attend the religious ceremonies at the bier of the late 
minister Chichenn also hinted that some of the leading accessories to 
the crime, like the veteran leader of the Left Socialist Revolutionary 
faction, Maria Spiridonova had done too much for the revolution 
to be subjected to punitive action The exchange of notes concern 
tng amends to be made for the assassination lasted v.eU into Novem 
ber, so that the matter remained unfinished by the ume the two gov 
emmenis severed their diptomauc relations As a matter of fact, 
German dissatisfaction with Soviet intransigence in the matter was 
one of the reasons advanced for the break 

More than thirty years have gone by since these events of 1918 
And yet they stand before my eyes in all their detail The body 
of the diplomat was to be transported to Germany Before the proccs 
Sion to the railroad station began to move, all those attending spent 
more than an hour waiting tn vain for the arrival of the Peoples 
Commissar for Foreign Affairs G V Chichenn, who had explicitly 
promised to appear Finally tlic cortege began to move without him 
The car carrying the coffin was followed by a number of automobiles 
containing representatives of the many civilian and military offices 
which Germany then had in Moscow The funeral party had already 
reached the broad Novinsky Boulevard when an open car came in 
the opposite direction In it sat an insignificant, emaciated man with 
a pointed reddish beard, and without a hat When the cortege came 
mio his sight, he began to gesticulate to the chauffeur in great ex 
cuement We saw then that one finger of his right hand carried a 
formless bandage which had not been dianged for a very long time, 
as one could see from quite a disunce Obviously, the people’s com 
missar was quite embarrassed to be late After his car had joined 



fh,. incompauble Allies 

procession I constantly looked at rh.rh j 
the station His bent figure and ^ during the trip to 

tion of the dire straits m which the mcatna 

The insurrection that broke out d ^^pttblic was m those days 
7lh severely ,es.ed the young Sovet »a"f Th' "'f ! “> 

femselves a number of key nos.no f" 

Dffrrhmsty who had rho„„'^ ‘ ^ “'1= They aiies led 

jng to the Left Socialist Revolutionaries^ he courage in go- 

pmoner for a mghu U„,„ h. „ / >nd kept him 

But the strength of the rebels wai.n. re’' "“P"* same fate 

- poor to »thsta„d Urn b'CL 

Revolutionary terrorists was no m,. k fanaticism of Socialist 
putty that had recently seired power m ^ ‘’“““‘“ution of the 

This revolt of the Lefi 1 Russia 

■ted and planned egort that\» nlrh'"'”''™’ ™ 

,,t™''f‘’‘ from within The °™>>row the 

”'"'"''1' favorable A momem hid h 

''“f nut y« consohdaTIf ' .oI'’"r govern 

uf the present rel*'"* '"'"’’''‘"g ‘he mono- 
mlnf a ‘’''^'’vtetRepubhc Il?,!'"’' ,'''”">ver subversive 
united ^”1 uf foreign emh ‘“pported with the 

0 ““*"v°PPos.t.ontothe®^'™^ “utually hostile but 
known revolt failed comnl propitious 

mg a tnoS"”'”‘ tevolution wd'J *“ well 

a iuLT rotahtartan regtme him v" "> overthrow 

t^-Bverstve movement coul ™-ud.ng 

'^uvertheless the c„„f„ such a regtme 

ocLpalon "u"' “ >^0 UlLII "T ™ Eol 

to a ivDhiK J ‘Ubsequent fate „ kn ™ ““'’w German 
r upidemic which was m ^tiown Andreyev fell victim 

lovmnTemfr' “‘"”^"3;;:,“' Wvatne^tn Igfn™™ 
tuigranted BylgjOhewash v'”' tlte Soviet 

owasbacktnhtaeowasastudent 



Prelude 


9 


iti ihe Military Academy ol the Red Army In his spare time he 
appeared publicly m talks in which he falsely boasted of having shot 
Count Mirbach Since his accomplice was no longer alive, no one 
could, after all, contest him his “glory *' 

I notified Baron Ago von Maltzan at that time the head of the 
Russian department in the German Foreign Ministry, of Blumkin's 
behavior, but chose the medium of a private letter in order to give 
him a possibility to refrain from taking any oflicial steps should he 
think dial to be more expedient He replied that he had deaded not 
to make any moves of protest against Blumkin s actions, in order not 
to jeopardize the German Soviet rapprochement vvhich vvas then 
m Its beginning Because of this tender regard, Blumkin remained 
in Moscow lor many more years One of his favorite haunts was the 
Club for Literature and Art, to which the then People s Commissar 
of Education, A V Lunacharsky, used to invite prominent foreigners 
Imagine the consternation and helplessness of a German politician 
to whom Lunacharsky once pointed Blumkin out, with the pointedly 
tactless question, "Perhaps you would like to meet the man who shot 
your minister? ' * 

The Bolshevik success in suppressing the insurrection of the Left 
Socialist Revolutionaries, as well as the hesitating attitude of the 
German government after the death of the minister, served to 
strengthen the confidence and self reliance of the Soviet government 
They sincerely believed, moreover, that they had made sufficient 
amends for the incident by their expressions of sympathy and some 
payments of money Hence they refused the request of the German 
government to garrison a battalion of German troops in Moscow for 
the protection of ihe mission They were afraid that German armed 
forces in Moscow might help to overthrow the Bolshevik regime, on 
the other hand they felt that Germany was no longer strong enough 
to insist on the fulfillment of her demands 

They had made a correct estimate of the situation The German 
authorities dropped their demands, at least for the time being, and 
designated a successor to Count Mirbach, Karl Helfierich, a well 
known ja/jJ Unsitcttr the esily years- cd the 

Weimar Republic, Helfierich came to be an eminent and outspoken 
member of the extreme right wing Nationalist party, which was un 

*In 1929 Blumkin was careleu enough lo look op Trotsky then in exile on 
Pnnkipo Island Tor this he paid with hu Lfe after his return to the Soviet Union 



10 


The Incompatible Allies 

reconciled to Germany s defeat and the fall of the monarchy His 
violent attack on the Reich s foreign policy on the floor of the Reich 
stag is said to have been the signal lor the assassination of the then 
foreign minister Walthef Rathenau 

The new minister arrived m Nfoscow in late July, 1918 His 
conversations with representatives of the Soviet government soon 
convinced him that they were neither willing nor able to fulfill the 
material conditions imposed on them at Brest Litovsk. which had 
been designed to aid the German war effort in the West Moreover, 
the minister and his entourage lived in constant fear lest the 
forces that had removed his predecessor were still at work and might 
once again try to find a victim His memoirs published in December, 
1921, revealed that he left the Berg palace only once during his stay 
in Moscow Convinced that the Soviet regime would fall before 
long he did not cherish the idea of being so uncomfortably near the 
scene of impending political catastrophe Consequently, Helffench 
left Moscow on his own initiative after a stay of only ten days His 
flight from, Moscow constituted a breach of duciplme quite unusual 
in the history of diplomacy and it was so regarded m the Foreign 
Ministry ' 

My personal affairs were affected by Helffench s sudden departure 
in that It caused me to urge my wife to leave Russia immediately, 
together with our children I visualized that Bolshevik terror, com 
bincd with starvation and general misery would soon make life in 
Russia impossible But I myself had to remain in Moscow for an 
other three months The expenences I gathered in these months 
turned out to be very useful to me later But before I tell about 
them let me introduce myself to the reader by giving him a brief 
sketch of my family background and eatly life 

3 FAMILY BACKGROUND AND EARLY LIFE 

I was born in 1886 m Moscow and received my primary and 
secondary education there My parents were Germans belonging 
to that large colony of western European business and professional 

> I was told Ihis by Admiral Paul Ton Hinue when he visited Moscow in 1922, 
Von Hinize erstwhile Ccnnafi nulitary representative at the court of Nicholas II 
•was at that time interested in the post of ambassador vacant after the conclusion 
oi the KapaUc) Treaty 



Prelude " 

men who had found a second home in Russia Every large ciiy, par 
ticularly St Petersburg and Moscow, conuined such a colony of 
wealthy and highly respected foreigners who were m peaceful com 
petition with one another while cultivating their languages and 
customs in their oivn churches and schools 

My ancestors had established a prosperous export business in die 
aty of Remscheid in the Rhineland My fadier himself had been 
sent to manage a branch of&ce of the mam house in Moscow On my 
mother s side I can trace the origins of my family back to the late 
eighteenth century when my mothers ancestors were prosperous 
manufacturers in Elberfeld A wandering French journeyman had 
brought them the secret of the madder root dye from France and 
their factory was a valuable addition to Elberfeld s textile industries 
An economic crisis in the 1830s induced my greatgrandfather to 
mQ\e the factory to a place near Moscoi\ on the Klyazma Riser, the 
water of which was said to be extremely suitable for dyeing There 
my mothers grandfather and his descendants who succeeded m 
developing the dyeing plant into a large textile enterprise, accumu 
lated considerable wealth The Russian Revolution has taken all 
of It away, and my cousins are spread all over the world as exiles 
After graduating from one of the German high schools in Moscow 
in 1903 I left for Germany, where I obtained a degree in engineer 
mg at the Darmstadt Technical University For two years after 
ward I worked as a machine-construction engineer in Upper Silesia 
I had just made up my mmd to follow my father s advice and go to 
America where a big farm implement factory had an opening for 
me when I received an invitation to return to Russia to work in 
a large fixtures plant belonging to a German born in Russia who 
subsequently became my father in law In 1910 therefore, I returned 
to the country of my birth and worked for this Russian Crane Com 
pany, using quickly to more and more responsible positions In 
1912 I married the faithful companion to whom I have dedicated 
this book She has actively shared all the experiences told in these 
pages 

During the years before the First World War, I traveled through 
the old Russian Empire in all its length and breadth and became 
thoroughly acquainted with it From my earliest youth I had been 
familiar with the Russian language and with the customs and ways 
of life of Russia s inhabitants After I delivered a lengthy report to 



Ths Incompatible Allies 
Hitler m the spring oi IS39, the Fuhrer is said to have remarked 
that he thought me half a Russtan < At home, indeed, German m 
fluences were predominant, since my father was not only formally 
a cdizen of the Reich but also took great pride in his German origin 
and sought to instill similar pride in me He sent me to one of the 
German high schools in Moscow But even in that school many of 
my classmates were sons of the Russian nob.hty and bourgeoisie, 
and both teachers and students wore the nnitonns which marked 
them as members of the centrahied tsar.st school system Anyone 
who IS aware of the formative influence of histoty instruction in the 
secondary school in the acculturation of the adolescent will appce 
cia e why I am m fact partly Russian in my culture For although 
n the German school that I attended svotld history was taught in 
ficlf, “f' which was taught from of 

mind n vividly impressed in my 

more rel? mom"f =nd Pugachev are 

Varies V u A"" "“'S' ^"’PUF. 

as arifar 1 ““"y “'hevs, are a. leas, 

mv te^a, ve v“ Looking back on 

influences T ‘■^®^^*y®ware that, depending on temporary 

n the r„d V '""a’ German culture 

la monv ,o . n predominated, but tt would not 

mauTasLu “'"'"y* •’«“ '■on.e countries. Get 

and nostalgia ’’o'*' "f *ein with affection 

tiolahtan™ o? revolution, wid, iB na 

severed rauacr^v?'"^ P^Luoal reiror, abruptly 

to Russia True tlA^T merahers of the foreign colonies 

services of T'"‘ E”™-™"'"' -ade temporary use of the 

thirties but few technicians during the 

Umomno'o!.,: n “*“"ar“ have struck roots tn the Soviet 
also because the SovieAL” ^itent xcuophobta of the regime but 
liberty have remained fore"*"*'’”’ ‘’^‘'Unian dignity, morality, and 
remained foreign to most representatives of the West 

often observe in cheekbones which you will 

Or he may |,ave been puazled bv mv w, ^™any to be typically Russian 

that I spealw German ifke someone dialect which results from the fact 

someone from the Rhineland but with a Russian r 



Prelude 


IS 


In August, 1914, at the very beginning of the war, I fell victim to 
the spy scare then gripping all wamng countries As I had under- 
taken a business trip to Germany shortly before the beginning of 
the war, I \sas arrested under the suspicion of having betrayed Rus 
Sian military seaets Although my firm was able to offer proof of 
the absurdity of the accusation, I ivas kept in solitary confinement 
Thereupon my young and courageous wife decided to go personally 
to the dreaded chief of the tsarist secret police in Moscow, Colonel 
Martynov Since this gentleman was inaccessible to ordinary mortals, 
she turned to the Moscow police chief Baron Budberg, whose daugh 
ter was her friend But even Budberg could do no more than gne 
my wife one of his calling cards, with the advice to make the best 
possible use of it 

Armed with the card, and with a ten ruble gold com, my wife 
went to the building of the Okhrana, worthy but comparatively mild 
and ineffiaent predecessor of the Bolshevik Cheka The gold com 
served to bribe the doorman, who otherwise would have refused to 
accept the police chief s calling card from an unknown woman A 
few seconds later my wife was facing Colonel Martynov, who ob- 
viously did not w ish to let the police chief wait When instead of the 
latter he saw my wife before him, he decided that she must be a terror 
ist aiming for hi$ life He therefore took the precaution of raising 
both his hands which w^as followed by my wife’s copying his gesture 
%Vhen mutual confidence had in this manner been established, a 
conversation developed which began with Martynovs remark that 
he could have me shot within twenty four hours After a correspond 
ingly violent reaction on the part of my wife the conversation ended 
with his promise that I would only be exiled into one of Russia’s 
far-off provinces First of all, therefore I had two months’ oppor 
tunny of getting acquainted with Russian jails and their inmates, 
as well as of making a number of other observations and gaming 
experience which broadened my knowledge of the country and its 
people I found confirmation for much that theretofore I had known 
only from the writings of Tolstoi, Dostoyevsky, and others The 
^s;s cholqj 7 nf the inmates of Russian ^isdjos as well as the attitude 
of the population to them, was determined by the fact that the Rus 
Stan people had for centuries lived under coercion and autocracy, 
thus generating the idea that jails are an institutionalization of 
human wickedness, and their inmates victims of man’s injustice This 



The Incompatible Allies 
IS Ihe mental attuude in which the priest ot the Russian Orthodox 
nravet IT'i” c “a languishing in the jails" in his 

n” ^ P'““' nierchant, 

wives in Russian provincial towns gave freshly baled wheat bread 
to *e inmates of the local prisons During my sojourn in the Vologda 

Lv rTml'*’ feeeived such additions to 

my regular meager ration 

to relrar’'?'" '■=■* *' *= opportuniq. 

have nared ih”’' ‘"P’'“°"""‘ P^^hly no, 

tags a^„rite r ? 7 

therenerm tred“ 

me on a onstin might have imposed on him to accompany 

Sen bacr,„ V *T" ” *”>“8’' Vologda to VyLa. 

£ver 1 shoul! d“'‘ ■>" *' SuLna 

wironemes^ li, r ‘‘ P"'™"' lu«i “ d'’ 

me chained to r Pfevenicd only with great difficulty my be- 
levotaa sle, ?h r"" o' ‘he 

of a sma^ll rive sre “ k”"'” "‘Sht m the natrow hold 

nving atXir ^ponees. after ar 

had no money or sheTlerirroof ' “T 

makes these tmnv e»o.r ' *' P^“‘"g “t ““e which 

mg knowledv? ihL P pale but also the sad and revolt 

humanity all over ^ c tan" oomtnitted against 

behind ''‘■^<1 ‘h' of old Russia tar 

moTJ'muSable cirn ' mtemees in Russia were in 

much as possible In th** h ^ their compatriots as 

Consulate General set m of the American 

my fellow internees anH r resources to aid 

imernees, and for the subsequent three and a quarter 

Province of Volofda^^ve' mtemmeat m a far-off pari of the 
«re which ihe then United Staf«i “® ^PP^'^uruty to remember the superb 
G«™>n micmeo .„ Ru,”!“ The S S".”'"' “■ Pc™l!n.J js»c «.c 

undertaken to protect German >n>^L<a. *" early years of the war 

the hands of a Mr Ph i “ *^“*®** Should these lines by any 
»ha. those who benefited by ho a d n ** t hope he sees from them 

remember ,t gratefuUy after almost forty 



Prelude 


15 


^ears of my internment I devoted time and work to the assistance 
of my comrades m-exile, without then foreseeing that my acts would 
base a deciding influence on my entire subsequent career 

Some thousand German civilian internees were distributed in 
small towns and villages of Vologda Province during ^Vo^ld War I 
The province \^as about as large as France is today, or about the 
size of California and Arkansas The county in which I lived was as 
large as Belgium, or about half the size of West Virginia But it had 
only one town, with three thousand inhabitants There was only 
one physician available within a radius of sixty miles In other coun 
ties of Vologda Province there were towns five hundred miles away 
from the nearest railroad station 

Radio did not exist at that time, the telephone had not yet pene 
trated deep enough into Russia to reach our province, and in the 
spring and fall the highways were at times impassable It was all the 
more astonishing how rapidly and safely the news about world 
esents reached us Equally important was the fact that the adminis 
trative arm of the tsarist bureaucracy reached into the remotest 
comers of the vast country Even in those years there was no escape 
from It Legends telling about settlements in Russia or Siberia over 
which the Fint World War passed without leaving any traces thus 
do not stand up to serious investigation They belong in the realm 
of sensationalist inventions For instance, the local police supervising 
the internees possessed complete and precise information about every 
one of us It was amazing to observe how quickly lliey were informed 
about escapes and a minimum of time passed before repressive 
measures decreed by the government in St Petersburg were felt in 
our hamlet, some hundred miles away from the nearest railroad 
station 

^Vhen in the course of 1917 the tsanst empire collapsed and the 
revolution developed toward the Bolshevik seizure of power, the 
principal events took place in Petrogtad and Moscow But in the far 
oS corners of the country the revolutionary events in the capitals 
were mirrored in processes during which the various social and 
political elements within the population played their successive roles 
In my capacity as local trustee of the United States Consulate Gen 
eral representing the interests of the German civilian internees, I 
had faced tsanst county and police offirers up to March, 1917 After 
the tsar’s abdication they were replaced at first by bourgeois liberal 



Tke Incompatible Allies 
representatives of the local zemstvo administration These were fol 
lowed by socialists Finally after the October Revolution local 
authority m our little town was represented by a notorious good 
for nothing who documented hts proletarian class consciousness by 
meeting me barefoot and in unspeakably ragged clothes I need 
hardly point out how difficult tt was to mate a good case for the 
material and spir.tual needs of the internees to such people and m 
such times of upheaval 

usr„”MrT '”■''■^'7 =hd civihan made 

leean '^i'”','; about by the revoluuou E.ther 

direcuon *'”■ ‘’apaned m a westetly 

ince and 'I'h ^ "’'•amed legal permission to leave Vologda Prov 

Getcral reok "" 1 , Consulate 

enoraou la,°'''l t>f<K=ct.ng German ,n, crests The 

Ss lem r ■" Moacow gave the 
crnsc'Lrousn f' r i” s'” humanitananieal and 

yond praise Parr'^'i ^ about their task were be 

yond praise Particular recognition IS due to the activities of the 

tn thnr reaveL°L‘^w'c^mps 
sto^tast™' *”''‘‘'1.'’ 

r„ a4„ran r‘"T f™' Angel of Siberia 

years lalet mtu H accompanied her many 

WiS .heTer ru';”""'^ 'he United Stales 

resistance shown b f n * =”'> “ "P"' '>>' 

as an intrusion into "ho regarded such help 

of war were established ^“°ga'"'e' the first homes for prisoners 
placed I'clt at tke H,. .“'re'" ‘^IS In this work I 

tabhshmenrthlto a ^=7 “eans of such es 

military and avihan''ur 's'™' ” ayematic protect on of German 

■he Geman d n 0 ™^ •""= 'ven before 

relief commission? n and the numerous German 

the conntty These iSief com^””“ *° ‘‘“"*“"‘1 'hroughout 

the Brest Litovsk T missions sent after the conclusion of 

brestLttovsk Treaty were subord.mtte to a Main Cotnm.ss.on 



Prelude 


17 


in Moscoi^, which in turn uas responsible to the Prussian War Min 
istry and the German Red Goss Because of my previous experience 
in prisoner of uar relief uork, both of these agencies hired me to 
work for the Mam Gmmission in Moscow That is the reason why 
I became a witness of the events described in the preceding sections 

4 FROM AfOSCOir TO RERUN 

My function in the Mam Commission for Aid to Prisoners of ^Var 
was to supervise and direct the entire evacuation work, a task which 
became more and more difficult as the months went by The Soviet 
government became less and less co-operative when they perceived 
the impending collapse of the Imperial government The approach of 
winter, with its rigors, and the growing lack of means of transporta 
tion meant added difficulties On the railroad stations m Moscow s 
periphery, working daily and far into the night, I had to use all my 
vigor and persuasion m order to obtain railroad cars and locomotives, 
or to prevent wanton search and looting of prisoners' possessions 
Driving back home through the unlit streets of Moscow after a day $ 
work was a constant danger because of rifle and pistol shots whose 
origin and aim remained quite obscure * 

’Terrorist acts of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries took on eser m 
creasing dimensions Two high Bolshevik functionaries, Volodarsky 
and Uriisky, w ere murdered in Petrograd, one shortly after the other, 
and Lenin barely escaped a similar fate On the part of the Bolshevik 
leadership, this unleashed the so-called Red Terror, svhich began 
with Its full fury after the attempt on Lenin s life on August 30, 1918 
The lists of Its victims published by the Bolsheviks at that time con 
tamed quite a few persons whom I knew personally 

During all this time official relations between the German Reich 
and Soviet Russia became increasingly strained In the first months 
after the conclusion of the peace treaty and the resumption of dip- 
lomatic relations, the Soviet government had shown a substantial 
amount of good will But its readiness to fulfill the conditions of 
the harsh treaty was continually on the decline in proportion as the 

® Remembering the difficulties which w« had to surmount I cannot help 
mentioning my good fnend and htithful colleague Carl Hecking whose energy, 
circumspection and selSessness more than any other factor helped us to conquer 
all obstacles 



18 


The Incompatible Allies 


coming German defeat loomed on the Western horizon The strategy 
of the Soviet government was from the beginning aimed at gaining 
a rallying period This period was houever, drawing to a close as the 
counterrevolutionary movement led by former tsarist generals 
gripped ever larger parts of Russia The Civil War was beginning 
In turn, the German attitude toward the Soviet Republic was 
highly contradictory, to say the least Tt« continued maintenance of 
diplomatic ties with the regime was not much more than a convenient 
fiction Simultaneously, opponents of the regime were actively sup- 
ported by the numerous Cetman agencies then in Moscow, while 
Bolshevik elements in the Ukraine were systematically persecuted 
and liquidated by the German occupation forces Political tensions 
in the Ukraine aggravated by the occupation, came to a head in the 
assassination of the German commander. Field Marshal Hermann 
von Eichhom on July 30, 1918 He too was a victim of Left Socialist 
Revolutionary terrorism The assassin was later apprehended, tried 
and condemned to death by the Soviet regime 
The German attitude of uncertainty toward Moscow expressed 
Itself in the decision to move the embassy from Moscow to Pskov not 
long after Helffench s departure This amounted to its dissolution, 
since Pskov was situated in the area occupied by the German Army 
Yet because the Germans wished to preserve at least the semblance 
of continued diplomatic relations, the German consul general m 
Moscow, Hauschild. was entrusted with the fulfillment of diplomatic 
functions However great Hauschild s personal decency, he was not 
up to the task which the situation demanded of him At the same time 
doubtful whether any other German representatives 
could have done more for the interests of their country m view of the 
approaching German collapse in the West and the recklessness with 
which the Bolshevik partner came to disregard the provisions of the 
neace treaiv ^ 


What caused the greatest concern in Berlin was Moscow s increas 
ing attempts to interfere in the domestic affairs of Germany Simul 
taneously wi^th the establishment of the German Embassy m Moscow 
/PCT-CDv’i, j ' ^ ^ Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic 
iff ^ established its own diplomatic post in Berlin This 
ere em e unprecedented opportunity to interfere in the 
internal political affairs of another country, under the cloak of diplo- 
ma ic immunity, by spreading Communist propaganda material 



Prelude 


19 


Money could be sent to the Soviet represen tauve by official courier 
mail The German security organs thus faced a problem for vhich 
there had been no precedent, and it paralyzed them for months^ 
It vi’as not until late m the fall of 1918, sshen the abuse of diplomatic 
immunity became too obvious, that the German authorities decided 
to make an end of this state of affairs, e\en if it should mean a rupture 
of relations At that time the German government did not, in any 
case, regard continued relations with the Soviet government as 
politically useful, on the contrary In domestic politics all ties with 
the Bolsheviks were highly dangerous, and in foreign politics, too, 
they were regarded more and more as a liability Realizing that the 
German army had been beaten and that the war was lost, the policy 
makers in Berlin began to search for means of securing a mild peace 
from the Allies, and a rupture of relations tsiih Russia may have 
been an attempt to wm their good graces Agitation for a “peace of 
undemanding’' with the West on the condition that Germany nould 
co-operate with them against Russian Bolshevism was one of the 
many ideas and propositions with which German generals, poll 
ticians, and journalists then began to play frantically At the same 
time General Max HoSmann seems to have been contemplating 
a last minute offensive against Petrograd As Karl Radek put it in 
his customarily aad way, “The corpse of the Soviet Republic was 
meant to be the dowry toward a martage de convenance between 
Germany and the Entente’’* As it turned out, the Western powers 
accepted Germany’s services for poliang the East, German troops, 
both regular and irregular, were ordered to remain m the Baltic 
provinces until further notice But this provision in the armistice 
terms did not lead to any leniency in shaping the Treaty of Versailles 
A convenient reason for a break was easily found When Soviet 
courier packages were being unloaded at the Fnedrichstrasse rail 
road station in Berlin in late October, 1918, some crates were "ac 
cidentally" dropped on their edges so that they broke open and re- 
I The diplomatic representative whom the Soviet government had sent to Berlin 
was AdoU YofEe The son of a wealthy Jewish family residing in the Crimea he 
had given the Bolshevik party his entire inherited property He was highly edu 
cated and his polished and tactfu) manners distinguished him favorably from 
the average representative of the party A personal friend and political as 
sociate of Trotsky he would have fallen victim of the purges had he not taken 
his own life in 1927 because of illness and disillusionment 
* Radek Die aaswartige Politik Sowjet Russlands (Hamburg 1921, Bibliothek 
det Kommunutischen Internationale), p 72 



20 


The Incompatible Allies 
vealed as their contents revoluUonaiy pamphlets in the German 
language » Thereupon Wilhelm Solf the Secretary of State for For 
eign Affairs demanded that the Soviet government recall its rep- 
resentauve This led to the mutual rupture of all diplomatic rela 
tions 

A few days later on November 9th the Kaisers government col 
lapsed In its place stepped a Council of People s Deputies m which 
the Independent Socialist Hugo Haase took over the conduct of 
foreign relations The Soviet government appears to have believed 
that the new German government consisting exclusively of Social 
Democrats would reverse the decision of its predecessor and re-estab 
hsh diplomatic relations especially since Yoffe had not yet departed 
from Berlin But they were mistaken On the contrary Haase ex 
plicitly insisted on the recall of the Soviet representative thus docu 
menting the gulf separating even the extreme left wing Independent 
Social Democrats from the Bolsheviks and the continuity linking 
the new regime with the one that had just collapsed 

No more than twelve hours had passed since the arrival of the news 
about the revolution in Gerroany when a Central Revolutionary 
erman Workers and Soldien Council was formed in Moscow 
which enjoyed the full support of the Russian Communist party as 
well « the official Soviet authorities It was headed by some left 
wmg German prisoners of war who had joined the Bolshevik move 
ment some out of conviction othei? out of opportunism The major 
ity of the members of the Workers and Soldiers Council had dur 
mg the preceding months infiltrated into the numerous German 
agencies in Moscow as office workers messengers and so on Thus 
they had become familiar with some of the internal affaire of these 
agencies Their knowledge was later utilized by the Soviet govern 
ment or propaganda puiposes They could accuse the German 
agencies o having participated m counterrevolutionary activities 
an 0 aving undertaken illegal business transactions As a mat 
er ol tact the official Gennan personnel tn Moscow regarded the 
o s evi regime as a passing phenomenon and considered it their 


thmilvn rif “■at the German authonl.ei 

luTrs, . J pamphlets m the crates 

(Oberost) as^ueU general €>f ihe Eastern Theater of Operano™ 

"r.n Nfoscow command oE the Cemnn Army had a rcjresenu 

Ge™„ Ar”"s^'.7„"„^“''" ‘S'"™ “■ “ 



Prelude 


21 


task to support the forces v.orking toward the fall of the regime This 
support was not only gisen in the form of money but also by smug 
gling counter revolutionary leaders and agents out to Germany with 
prisoner of war transports Moreo\er former Russian diplomats and 
other members of the old high society svho had fled to Germany 
would turn to their old friends in the German Foreign Ministry 
requesting that help be given to their relatives still in Russia Von 
Maltzan himself v\as swamped with requests of this sort and he al 
ways tried to do as much as he could without jeopardizing his posi 
non and the aims he was pursuing 

As a consequence the members of the German Consulate General 
the relief commissions and other agencies in Moscow found them 
selves in a very uncomfortable and embarrassing situation for the 
ten days between November 9th and the date of their departure 
from Moscow Under the guidance and with the participation of 
Soviet functionaries the Workers and Soldiers Council organized 
meetings for the German prisoners of war in Moscow In these meet 
mgs flaming speeches were delivered and the representatives of 
reactionary imperial Germany were told that they would be held 
to account for their inimical atutude toward the Soviet Republic 
None of these threats was ever carried out Perhaps this is due to 
the fact that the Soviet mission was then still m Berlin and the 
Soviet government feared rctaliauon from the Germans 
Though I had never attempted to hide my anu Bolshevik attitude 
I had carefully refrained from any action out of keeping with my 
position and my dut es ^Vhen I met the Soviet government and the 
German Workers and Soldiers Council again later this fact con 
siderably eased my official dealings with them 

On November 19 1918 the German officials departed from Mos 
cow At about the same time the tram carrying Yoffe and his large 
staff back to Soviet Russia was rolling out of Berlin The exchange 
of missions was to take place at the line of demarcation separating 
the area occupied by Germany from the territory of the Soviet Re 
public This line then ran through Orsha about one hundred miles 
west of Smolensk oa the caiUoad from. Moscow to Brest LitovsV. 
The Soviet authorities had fumished a tram with upholstered seats 
to carry the official German personalities for the remainder of the 
personnel and for those prisoners of war who preferred returning 
to a defeated Germany to remaimng in Bolshevik Russia freight cars 



The Incompatible Allies 
had been added Since I did not xvant to be separated from the pns 
oners of war, I, together with a few friends, decided to choose the 
freight cars This gave me not only moral satisfaction but also the 
quite material advantage that the freight cars could be heated, 
whereas the passengers in the first class compartments had to freeze 
miserably 

During the trip I was shaken to my heart by the pitiful sight of tens 
of thousands of Russian prisoners of war coming from the opposite 
direction After the rupture of German Soviet relations, the Soviet 
authorities had removed all faalities for the reception, sheltering 
feeding, and transportation of returning prisoners from their side 
of the border The German administration for prisoners of svar was 
Aerefore well aware of the desperate situation in which returning 
Russian prisoners would find themselves once they crossed onto 
Russian territory But m their German camps the Russians were 
extremely r«tive. clamored to be shipped home. and. in impotent 
resentment, began to wreck the camps m which they had languished 
50 long When, m addition, radical elements among them began to 
fraternize with German left wingers, the German administration 
decided to conunue shipping the prisoners out They were trans 
ported to Orsha m sealed boxcan and then dumped into the laps 
of Soviet authorities completely unprepared for the rush There 
was neither transportation nor food nor shelter available in Orsha 
The prisoners, therefore, m spile of their miserable condition, set 
out on their eastward trek on foot Because of lack of fuel and the 
breakdown of locomouves. our tram was frequently forced to stop 
during the nighL I can still hear today the shuffling sound of thou 
sands of feet moving past the tram on the right and left. Many of the 
Russians collapsed from hunger, cold, or exhaustion, and remained 
lying beside the tracks Nor do I blame a small group of these un 
break into our warm boxcar by 
Z burn the car In 

K 1^* though by a miracle, we escaped the danger of 

agmn suddenly started to move once 

Soviei^d at Orsha, the opposite tram carrying the 

iZJJZ Soviet ambassador refused 

o consent to the exchange because two baggage cars be- 



Prelude 


23 


longing to the Soviets were missing Two days were spent in negotia 
tions until It was finally agreed that two baggage cars should be un 
hitched from one of the German trains to be kept as a pawn by the 
Soviet authorities until the missing cars arrived Shortly afterward 
a railroad car slowly moved past me, from its middle window a pale 
face framed m a black, beard was looking out It was Yoffe, the first 
ambassador whom the young Soviet Republic had sent out into the 
world, and who was now returning after his mission had failed 

Our transport arrived in Berlin after another six days Berlin 
seemed to be suffering severely from the consequences of war and 
revolution But what impressed me most gravely was the sight of 
cars racing through the streets with red flags fl>ing and containing 
men in leather jackets armed to the teeth They reminded me of 
the streets of Moscow at the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution, 
and I saw in them an incarnation of the danger that in Germany, 
too, developments might take a turn toward the Bolshevik course 
If this did not take place in spite of the ominous indications, credit 
must be given the German Social Democrats, men like Friedrich 
Ebert, Gustav Noske, Philipp Scheidemann and others who sue 
ceeded in prevenung Germany from going Communist in the yean 
following World War I 

Among the problems then dominating the domestic situation m 
Germany, the prisoner of war question played a considerable role 
The refusal of the Western Allies to allow the German prisoners of 
war then m their hands to return after the armistice had created 
considerable excitement among broad sections of the German popu 
lation A People s League for the Protection of German Military and 
Civilian Prisoners (Volksbund zura Schutze der deutschen Knegs 
und Zivilgefangenen) formed at the end of 1918 had rapidly devel 
oped into a mighty organization which not only sought to appeal to 
the world's conscience but at the same time was exerting strong pres 
sure on the German government in order to hasten the return of the 
prisoners 

The German government was well aware of the political iraplica 
Unns. at tim ^ison^c-atvKai problem. la the, feu. 

of January, 1919, it established a central agency, the Reich Central 
Office for Military and Civilian Prisoners (Reichszentralstelle fur 
Knegs und Zivilgefangene), directly responsible to the Reich cabinet 



24 The Incompatible dikes 

and entrusted with all problems connected with the return pns 
oners from foreign lands The nominal head of the Reichstentral 
stelle was the Social Democratic Reichstag deputy Stucklen, the man, 
hoivever, who gave the agency its soul and spirit was Montz Schle- 
singer A democratic Socialist by conviction, and therefore opposed 
to Communism, he nas nevertheless an untypical representative of 
the Social Democratic party because o£ his acute feeling for pobtical 
constellations and exigencies, unhindered by the doctrinairism ham 
pering so many of his party comrades He had not come up through 
the ranks of the party s trade union bureaucracy, but had joined 
It only after the fall of the monarchy 

Although my own motives tn working for close German Soviet co- 
operation may have been of a much more sentimental nature, the 
common course Schlesinger and I were usually adiocating served 
as a growing personal bond between us, which greii into warm fnend 
ship When Ulrich Count Brockdotff Rantzau entered the scene 
as ambassador he knew the part played by the team Schlesinger 
Hilger, and maintained close contact with us Schlesinger often came 
to Moscow, and an almost ideal tricornered co-operafion developed 
in the course o! time between three men so utterly dissimilar m 
origin, traioiiig and personal outlook For many years Schlesinger 
and I corresponded frequently and regularly This correspondence 
has become an important source for this book 

Schlesinger’s immediate aim was to regain contact with Moscow 
in the micrcst of the German prisoners ol war In December, 1918, 
even before the founding of the Reidiszentralstelle, he succeeded 
in having the Independent Socialist Reichstag deputy Dr Oscar 
Cohn dispatched to Moscow for this purpose Cohn had served as 
legal consultant in Adolf Yoffe's Soviet embassy in Berlin, and Schle 
singer hoped that he would be able to reach Moscow and return 
to Berlin with a Soviet plenipotentiary who could negotiate about 
the fate of the German prisoners still in Russia The plan misfired 
completely When ihe Soviet government learned about Cohn’s mis 
sion, It broadcast a wireless message containing the assertion that 
Cohn had been given large amounts of money by the Soviet govern 
ment with which to support the Germaq radical left. Upon this 
news General Hoffmann detained him in Kovno, and Cohn had to 
return to Berlin 

In January, 1919, the Allied poivers assumed full supervision over 



Prelude 


25 


all Russian prisoners of v,ar still in Germany and ordered the im 
mediate cessation of all further transports to Russia, reserving for 
tliemselves the right to ship Russian prisoners anysvhere they thought 
fit The intention to press these Russians into service for the inter 
vention against the Bolshevik regime was obvious Recognizing it, 
Schlesinger strongly objected to the idea of transferring the prisoners 
from one master to another like cattle, without even asking their 
consent Moreoser, he feared that the Soviet authorities would, 
in such a case, take their vengeance on the German prisoners still 
in their hands, sshose situation already defied description He there 
fore decided to frustrate the plans of the Allies by intensifying not 
stopping the transport of Russian pnsoners out of Germany, well 
as\are of what hardships vsere ai\aittng them in Russia and that 
they would at once be used by the Soviet government to help fight 
the Civil War All this, he thought, would have to be the price paid 
for the benefit of the German pnsoners in Russia 
I joined the Reichszeniralstelle in the spring of 1919 Nfy prinapal 
duty consisted of the supervision of all German prisoner-of war 
camps containing Russian prisoners Later I helped organize the 
systematic rehabilitation of German personnel returning from Rus 
sia and their reintegration into the German social fabric 
Thanks to Schlesinger's initiative, the Reichszeniralstelle was 
requested in the first half of 1920 to enter into negotiations with the 
Soviet government concerning the further exchange of civilian and 
military prisonen still remaining in the two countries Viktor Kopp, 
designated as the representative of the Soviet government for the 
purpose of these negotiations arrived in Berlin in the spring and 
an agreement was signed in that city on Apnl 19, 1920 The agree 
ment provided for the establishment by both governments of pris 
oner relief agencies on the territory of the other party, to be admin 
istered by persons especially designated for the work Less than three 
months later, on July 7, 1920 a further agreement was signed which 
granted personal immunity to both of these plenipotentiaries They 
were further given the right to maintain courier communications 
with their own governments, to use code, and to exercise consular 
funcuons With this, both partners manifested their intenuon to 
revive the relations that had been ruptured m November, 1918 
For this the exchange of prisoners of war furnished a welcome pre- 
text. 



26 The Incompatible Allies 

On the part of the Soviet government, Viktor Kopp was made 
administrator plenipotentiary of the Soviet Relief Agency for Mili 
tary and Civilian Prisoners The German government designated me 
to be his counterpart in Moscow Henoe on June 7, 1920, 1 departed 
once more for Russia The following chapters tell about the twenty 
one years which I subsequently spent there 



II RELIEF AND 
RECONSTRUCTION WORK 


1. EVACUATION OF PRISONERS OF WAR 

MY TRIP TO MOSCOW AND THE 
DISSOLUTION OF THE SOLDIERS' COUNCIL 

In June, 1920, Soviet Kussta was surrounded on its western border by 
a cordon of states which either had not yet regulated and defined 
their relation to the Soviet government or, like Poland, were still 
at war with it The only exception was Estonia, which had concluded 
a peace treaty with the RSFSR m February of 1920 Her example 
was followed by Lithuania m July, Latvia in August, and Finland 
in October, 1920 But in order to reach Moscow from Germany m 
June, I had to travel by way of the Baltic and Estonia Regular steam 
ship runs between the Baltic ports of Germany and Estonia had not 
yet been opened Hence, I had to take recourse to a small steamer 
the German overseas transport agency (Seetransportleitung) had 
chartered from a private steamship company in Stettin for the pur 
pose of transporting military and civilian prisoners home from Rus 
sia. The Soviet organizations would transport these prisoners to the 
Soviet border near Yambuig, • there they were received by rep- 
resentatives of the International Red Cross and brought into a 
transit camp on the Estonian side of the border, in Narva From 
there they resumed their homeward journey after a brief quarantine 

After a brief stay in Narva I traveled to the capital of the young 
tviunraii Tkeprfifnt, ’fivm "hieK: *&re xfSxdi YcassTan * ttrarier 

car” would go twice a week, it served as the connecting link between 
the Soviet representatives in Tallin and the governmental agencies 

1 Later named KiDgisepp in honor of an Estonian Communist shot by his fellow 
countrymen. 

27 



The Incompatible Allies 

Th= Soviet government wta at that time represented in Estonia by 
certain Gukovsky, who had previously served m Moscow as Pen 
™ “”<1 who in this capacity had done 

menrw”®,h° ‘'’'"n " the ruble The Soviet govern 

mo^r “'■>> “unlaining the allegedly Mamist principle that 
money IS dispensable m a proletanan state and would soof disap 
pear, being a bourgeois imtilution In hi, outward appearance 

of "at time 

MU aZe” emphasize hi. Communist convictions by hi, proletar 

4 S aTa“' f ■” wi*ou, a neck 

tie With a pair of worn-out house slippers on his feet 

de^r° ?hZT ‘’"T': ^>">1'“ «' conversation The 6rst 

quantities of the Soviet government to obtain substantial 

in Russm “■■»» G'nnauy which were sorely needed 

CpplZn =^00 "’’en the German 

had to infZ Cuk f ■" S'”'* * who 

to h m "o Zve rte M “'»• “ wo, up 

oLMbe Amu Z' •<> ‘*'0 «aport From there tt 
ship, Mv word, H r ‘ho prisoner of war transport 

koquited quan‘;“ 'oW^Thte'r”'"*'”' 

of transDortation Ua if o , , drawn wagons (the only means 

harbor, dirough the centerTf to™ 'S.ZhT'Z'^ ”‘‘ 1 '°" “ Z 
=S=nt, of the Entente observtng everJZl of m t *' 

live, suspiciously A Soviet void *^ * * ‘‘'P™'"'* 

the wildest rumors sod 'lomport to Germany would cause 

both stSeTn morfdrffic fZZ' ■■““"o“»"ol situation of 

his argument, Gukovsky askrfm “'‘oady To emphasize 

the amount of gold deZndeit f how much weight 
these words he pm hifhTd fu ' iZ™’” ‘"Pf^nted Wid. 
and drew out a sack filled u Jf" * “Poned drawer of his desk 
gold out before me and cimd SZ 
Its only 10,000 gold rubles! ■ Ta ^ °* '"“8*“ '““* 

Gukovsty returned theZcrto difd" "“*■ of contempt, 

e desk, gave the drawer a kick, and 

gold nibln are the equiv 



29 


Relief and ReconstTUCtion Work 

seemed to regard the matter as closed The fact that the desk threat 
ened to disintegrate of old age and the drawers were without locks 
did not appear to worry him m the least * 

The other matter sshich I took up with Gukovsky was about sev 
eral crates containing a total of 15,000 000 rubles which I carried 
with me on orders from my gosemment The money uas to cover 
the expenses of the Moscow relief agency and the cost of transport 
ing the prisoners home It consisted in part of notes printed by the 
Soviet government after the October Revolution partly of tsarist 
bank notes, and for the rest of so-called Kerensky notes money that 
had been printed and circulated by the Provisional Gosemment 
preceding the Bolsheviks Tsanst money and Kerensky notes is ere 
at that time m great demand by those elements in Soviet Russia 
counung on a speedy fall of the Soviet government They s\ere 
N’alued much more highly than legal Soviet money The tsanst 
ruble, worth about ten Sonet rubles when I arrived in Moscow, went 
up to eight times that much in March 1921 only to drop torero sud 
denly after the collapse of the Kronstadt revolt and the inauguration 
of the New Economic Policy (NEP) Luckily, this occurred at the 
sery moment when our supplies of tsarist rubles had been exhausted, 
so that the relief agency suffered no heaty loss from the devaluation 
of the tsarist ruble 

Speaal crates had been constructed by experienced craftsmen in 
Berlin for the transport of the money They had zinc linings inlaid 
seals and tight locks Viktor Kopp the Soviet representative in 
Berlin, had provided me ivith the necessary papers to get the fif 
teen million through the Soviet border and customs Nevertheless 
to be doubly careful I asked Gukovsky v'.hether he could not give 
me some additional written documents to prevent any possible dif 
ficulties at the border His reaction to my request was typical of the 
attitude which the Bolsheviks at that time showed to money matters 
of all sorts Gukovsky first of all made the proposition that I should 
leave the crates with all the paper money with him In exchange he 
oSered to make out a check on the State Bank in Moscow Gukovsky’s 

^ Soon after my conversation wiUi GukoviVy 'business interests in Germany de 
sinng to resume trade relations with Russia established a Research Association 
for the Resumption of All Trade with the East (Studiengesellschaft fur die 
Aufnahme des gesamten Handels nut dem Osten) Worried by the serious danger 
of disruptive epidemics this associauon dedared itself ready to ship drugs and 
medical supplies to Russia by sea and by air 



30 The Incomfiattble Allies 

mtentions were quite obvious, since tsa.rist money was in great de 
mand in Estonia, too Hence I declined his “generous" offer, stating 
that my govenunent had ordered me to take the money to Moscow 
just as 1 had received it Visibly peeved, Gukovsky wanted to find a 
release for his disappointment. “I can’t understand all the fuss you 
make about money,” he said “Let me show you what we do with 
that stuff here *' With these words he led me to a huge old wooden 
chest standing in the next room, it was one of those trunks used by 
Russian peasant women to store their belongings Gukovsky gave 
the half open lid a push, the chest opened, and I saw a most dis 
orderly heap of Soviet paper money tvhich had obviously never been 
counted, nor was there any control over its use I could not bide my 
amazement, but Gukovsky, with a grand gesture, pointed to the 
trunk, exclaiming “Well, how do you like that? After all, the stuff 
jsn t worth any other treatmentl ’ 

The next day I departed for hfoscow My traveling companions 
were an official of the Soviet diplomatic representation in Estonia 
and the Russian left wing Socialist Axelrod, who had been expelled 
from Germany and who was now returning to his home country 
after many years of exile Apparently his feelings about returning to 
a Bolshevik Russia were mixed, parucularly after the Bolshevik bor 
der control had paid excessive attention to his baggage, which was 
filled with the products of the capiuhst world The Soviet diplomatic 
official going to hfoscow with us was Davtian, a man of elegant ap- 
pearance, With a finely modeled face and polished European man 
nen, all quite out of keeping with the impression his chief had made 
on me the day before Nor was it easy to believe that this cultured 
gentleman belonged to an agency whose name is closely linked with 
all the horrors of the Red Terror < 

In Yamburg, the fint station on the Soviet side of the border, the 
guard in charge of the courier car announced that a gentleman by 
the name of Seigei Koussevitzky wished to see me I had previously 
met Koussevitzky in Moscow, where he had become well known 
first as a bass violinist, and later as a conductor His wife came from 
one of the wealthiest and best known Russian merchant families, 

* For ihe ntxi sevetitten yean I>avtian occupied a number of high and respon 
ffible positfoiu in (he Soviet Lfmon iFc was luiatly ambassador iti IVarsaw, 

whence he was recalled to hfoscow He disappeared in the great purges of the nud 
thirties 



31 


Relief and Reconstruction Work 

through her he v.’as connected wth Moscow's leading soaety orcles 
In the hospitable villa of his father in law on Lake Geneva, my wife 
and I spent part of our honeymoon in the summer of 1912 Sergei 
Koussevitzky and his wife, it appeared, were being detained at the 
Soviet Estonian border because the Cheka in Yamburg would not 
recognize as valid the exit permits they had obtained in Moscow 
NeiAer I nor even Davtian could penuade the authorities to relent 
Willy nilly the Kousscvitzkys had to go back to Moscow once more, 
an exceedingly diSicult and exhausting trip at that time There, after 
some efforts, I finally helped them to obtain papers with which they 
tookleave of Soviet Russia forever I had the further great satisfaction 
of being able to help them o\er the first da^s in Estonia with a few 
hundred Estonian crowns still in my possession 

On ray way to Moscow I saw Peirograd again for the first time 
since the Bolshevik Revolution This magnificent city, built by a 
tsar who used the most brutal and objectionable means for the pur 
pose of doing great things for his country, was now terribly sad to 
behold The faces of the population were modeled by starvauon, 
misery, and desperation, no matter whether they were the sorry rem 
nants of the dispossessed classes or representatives of the victorious 
proletariat. All had but one thought To obtain a crust of bread 
The food obtainable by means of official ration cards meant certain 
starvation Not a single shop was open, no public means of con 
veyance was running, and much of the once famous wooden pave 
mem of St Petersburg had disappeared the people had used it to 
fire their stoves 

In Petrograd was a branch office of the Moscow German Workers’ 
and Soldiers’ Council that had been established in a palace on the 
Moika River which before the revolution had been the property of a 
man carrying one of the more well known Russian noble names 
The house itself and its interior furnishings, with their somewhat 
threadbare magnificence, were a reminder of the days portrayed for 
posterity by Lev Tolstoi m his immortal War and Peace Its stylish 
marble ballroom seemed to symbolize an age in which a very thin 
layer of Russia’s population enjoyed the highest products of spiritual 
coVture and soaal grace at the expense oi die vast peasant masses 
Now the hall was hung with red bannen bearing proclamations de 
manding the unity of the proletanam of all countries and the de 
strucuon of the bourgeoisie They expressed the irreconalable an 



22 The Ineompatible Allies 

tagonism between the old and the new social orders Once more I 
became conscious o£ the difficulty ot die compromise which I had de- 
cided to make for the sake of the lives of human beings entrusted to 
my care 

THE PROBLEM OF THE WORJCERS’ AND SOLDIERS* COUNCIL 

The position held by the Central Revolutionary German Workers’ 
and Soldiers Council in Moscow and its provincial branches rested 
on the support given it by the Soviet government and the Russian 
Communist party When the German agencies departed from Mos 
cow in 1918, the council had taken over their entire property, con 
sisiing of buildings motorcars, food stores, and so forth, and had 
been permitted to keep most of it Since then its principal task, had 
consisted of the Communist indoctnnation of the German prisoners 
of war, m order to make them into the vanguard of the world revo- 
lution in Germany For this purpose the Workers’ and Soldiers’ 
Council continued to maintain and operate the prisoner of war 
homes established by us in 1918, and, in its fashion, devoted itself 
to the spiritual and material care of the pnsoners who were passing 
through these homes on their way to Germany 
During the conferences in Berlin that preceded my departure for 
Moscow, the Foreign Ministry expressed its expectation that 1 would, 
of course, ’ dissolve the Workers and Soldiers’ Council immediately 
upon my arrival m Moscow In addition they thought it to be a mat 
ter of course that I should take care to prevent any further Com 
muntst propaganda among the German pnsoners of war I refused, 
however, to recognize these instruclions as binding, for I knew that 
such procedure would at once set me into sharp antagonism with 
the Soviet government and with the Soldieis’ Council It would make 
my position impossible from the very beginning I tried to demon 
strate to the Foreign Ministry that we could not afford such an at 
titude since the Workers’ and Soldtem Council held in its hands 
all the material means necessary lor the care of the prisoners More- 
over, 1 argued, the Soviet government was politically in no position 
to abandon the Workers and Soldiers’ Council for the sake of Ger 
many 1 finally succeeded m convincing the Foreign Ministry that 
alter my arrival in Moscow I should at first have no choice except 
trying to bring about a modus vtvendt with the Soldiers* Council 



33 


Belief and Reconstruction Work 

and to harness its apparatus for the purpose of getting the prisoners 
home An agreement nas reached, and the power of attorney given 
me by the Reichszentralstelle contained the following paragraph 

Herr Hilger is authorized to collaborate wuh the German organization 
still remaining in Woscow which has heretofore dealt with the care and 
evacuation of the prisoners he may furthermore use his own dutiful judg 
ment in creating suitable auxiliary agencies in other places in Russia or m 
allowing existing German organizations to continue as such auxiliary 
agencies and giving them specific orders 

The document is still in my possession today It conceals the ominous 
name Workers’ and Soldiers Council under the harmless designation 
of ‘ the German organization still remaining in ^foscow ’ But the 
meaning and purpose of the agreement were not affected by this 
circumlocution, whereas 1 was covered against the danger of pos 
sible malicious attacks in the future moreover, I was m a position to 
utilize not only the Soldiers Council tn Moscow but also its branches 
in the provinces for the tasks (or which the prisoners of war exchange 
treaty provided 

Immediately after my arrival in Moscow, it became apparent how 
right I had been m predicting to the Foreign Ministry the attitude 
of the Soviet government concerning the Workers’ and Soldiers’ 
Council The night after my arrival 1 paid a visit to Chichenn in 
order to introduce myself m my new capacity and present him an 
introductory letter from the German foreign minister Chichenn, 
obviously supposing that my first demand would he the dissolution 
of the German Workers and Soldiers’ Council, seized the initiative 
After expressing his satisfaction that Germany had decided, after 
an interruption of almost two years, to resume its relations with 
Soviet Russia, he declared that these relations could bear fruit only 
if Germany were to take the peculiar character of the Soviet regime 
into account. In saying this, he continued in his fussy way of speak 
ing, he had in mind the existence of a certain German Workers’ 
and.Soldters Council in Moscow Admittedly, the existence of such 
an organization was unusual in view of the simultaneous presence 
of an officiaf representative from the country in question fJevertfie- 
less he concluded, he saw himself obliged to state that I should create 
a very difficult situation iC I were to demand the dissolution of the 
Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council Indeed, such a demand on my part 



34 The Incompatible Allies 

uould seriously jeopardize my entire purpose of caring for the 
prisoners For political reasons the granting of such a request would 
be out of the question for his government, the Soviet government 
would refuse it even in the face of the danger that its refusal might 
once more disturb relations with Germany 

Chichenn was visibly relieved when I replied that it had not been 
my intention to demand of the Soviet gosemraent the dissolution 
of the German organization in Moscow On the contrary, I told him 
that I had already found a modtts vwendi wnth them 

The situation I had found in Moscow was what 1 had expected 
Representatives of the Workers' and Soldiers' Counal were waiting 
for me at the railroad station Externally polite and correct in their 
forms, they nevertheless made me understand clearly that they had 
no intentions of letting me crowd them out of the picture, even 
though they would be perfectly svilltng to co-operate with me There 
was no doubt that their behavior was based on orders from the 
Soviet government, similar direcuves must have been at the base 
of Chicherin's attitude 

Four men were at the head of the Workers’ and Soldiers' Council 
at the time of my arrival in Moscow Their chairman was a former 
foundry worker from Hamburg Of the four, he was the only one 
who had joined the Communist movement from inner conviction 
He was the one, therefore, whom 1 deaded 1 had to remove from 
Moscow as soon as possible Fortunately, he was intelligent enough 
to understand that after the amial of an official German representa 
live m Moscow the days of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council were, 
in the long run, numbered To sugar<oat the bitter pill, I appointed 
him chief of the branch relief agency in Petrograd, he assented and 
moied to that city I thought I could afford his making fiery revolu 
tionary speeches before the Gentian prisoners passing through Petro- 
grad in view of the advantages I enjoyed from having rid myself of 
his presence in Moscow 

The other three were of petty bourgeois origin and had been at 
traded to Communism by inferiority feelings and career reasons, 
motnes I now sought to exploit One of them had been a petty office 
clerk in Germany, his energy in work was matched by his craving 
for recognition and status I appointed him chief of the evacuation 
department of the relief agency, so that he ivas now performing the 
work I had done m 19lS I sent the other man into the provinces 



55 


Relief and Reconstruction Work 

The third one was a foirner Sooal Democrat who had done labor- 
union work I appointed him to head the economic department, 
where he could gise free play to hu organizational talents 

It was a strange period of transition during which the two organiza 
tions not only co-existed peacefully side by side but also shared 
the same premises and were practically merged organizationally A 
sign had been nailed beside the entrance door of our offices attest 
ing to the presence of an official German agency, but next to it hung 
the red shield of the Communist Workers’ and Soldiers’ Counal 
The diarchy which had characterized the early months of the revo- 
lution svas here repeated, as it were, in miniature But whereas the 
diarchy of 1917, in svhich the Soaahst Petrograd Soviet temporarily 
shared sovereigri power with the bourgeois Provisional Government, 
had given way to the exclusive rule of the by now bokhevized Soviet, 
It was different m 1920 Now the bourgeois agency officially repre 
senting the German government succeeded at least in removing the 
last traces of Communist collaborauon especially after further steps 
had been taken to regulate and normahre German-Soviet relations 
One night we quietly and unobtrusively removed the red sign of 
the Soldiers’ Counul from the door of our offices, symbolic tndtca 
tion that the diarchy in the German Relief Agency had come to an 
end The hfoscow Rote Fahne, official Communist paper in the Ger 
man language, m February, 1921, calmly reported the dissolution of 
the Workers’ and Soldiers Counal, not without praise for the "wise 
restraint and tact ' I had shown in dealing with the problem 

NANSEN, EIDUCK, AND RAROVSKY 

Of the Soviet governmental agencies with which we had offiaal 
dealings in our relief work, the most important was the Central 
Evacuation Office, entrusted with the job of evacuating all German 
prisoners Tsentrevak, as it wras bnefiy called, was headed by the 
Latvian Communist Alexandr Vladimirovich Eiduck, who had previ 
ously been an official of the Cheka and who must have had countless 
human lives on his consaence The compulsion to have official deal 
mgs with this man, whom I loathed, was one of the more revolting 
aspects of my life m Moscow Indeed, it seemed a paradox that he, 
of all people, had been put in charge of relief work Together with 
Eiduck, I had to travel to Kovno m September, 1920 There a con 



gg The Incompatible Allies 

ference concerning the evacuation of German, Austrian, and Hun 
garian prisoners ol war from Russia was to taV.e place under the 
chairmanship of the famous Norwegian Arctic explorer Fridtjof 
Nansen, whom the League of Nations had appointed high commit 
sioner for dealing with all prisoner-of war problems in Europe 
Nansen had designated me as his representative for all Russia 
Nansen’s human stature and the purity of his character raised him 
high above the environment in which the chaos of postwar Europe 
had placed him Everything Nansen said and did was exclusively 
and without any compromise aimed toward the welfare of suffering 
mankind He simply could not understand that people could regard 
problems hke the evacuation of prisoners of war, the Russian refugee 
question, the desperate situation of the Armenians, or the famine 
m Russia from any other than purely humanitarian, points of view, 
his whole being revolted against the idea that others might make 
these problems into objects of political deals While his attitude on 
intemational conferences went counter to selhsh political aims, the 
protagonists of such aims only laughed at his political naivete But 
for those who benefited from the services of his organizations or who 
came into direct touch with his great kindness or universal knowl 
edge, Nansen was the incarnation of timeless ideals, of humanity, 
and international reconciliation 

Rovno, capital of Lithuania, had been chosen as the place for the 
prisoner of war conference because it was equally distant from Ber 
lin and Moscow and because it could be reached on land routes by 
all participants Lithuania had concluded a peace treaty with Soviet 
Russia on July 12, 1920, and had soon afterward resumed diplomatic 
relations with her Nevertheless, railway trafSc between Moscow and 
Kovno had not yet been restored by &ptember, 1920 Poland and 
Soviet Russia were still at war with eadi other, and the Poles had 
just been cleared from the Lithuanian Russian border area Thus it 
took us a lull three days and three nights to reach our destination, 
even though at every opportunity Eiduck underscored his demands 
for faster transportation with a pistol m his hand Each change of 
locomotives took several hours, and the speed of the tram seldom 
exceeded fifteen miles an hour because the locomotives were worn 
out and the only fuel available was damp wood Several miles east 
of the Lithuanian border railroad connection stopped entirely, since 



37 


Relief and Reconstruction TKorA 

the tracks had either been removed entirely or changed to a narrois er 
gauge We traided some of the remaining distance on foot and some 
of It on prlmlU^e peasant carts, until we reached a place where the 
Lithuanian railroad administration furnished us an old and decrepit 
passenger car which finally took us into Kovno 

At the Kovno conference a resolution was accepted which provided 
that the German prisoners interned in Siberia should be given 
pnonty in evacuation because of the adverse climate and severe 
conditions of life there And since the capacity of the ships a%ailable 
in Narva was insufficient to evacuate prisoners from all parts of 
Russia at the same time, the German agencies agreed to postpone 
the evacuation of prisoners from the Ukraine for the time being * 

At the same time the Soviet government had from the very begin 
ning of the evacuations demanded that the individual transports 
from Germany should contain prisoners of identical national origin 
(Great Russians, Ukrainians, or Siberians) so that they could be sent 
on to their destination in a body after arriving on Russian territory 
The German authorities complied with this reasonable request, and 
henceforth every third contingent of Russian prisoners leaving Ger 
many consisted exclusively of Ukrainians The result was that all 
Ukrainian prisoners had already been returned to their home country 
at a time when the Germans in the Ukraine were still waiting to be 
evacuated It was not until the end of the year, when the flow of 
prisoners from Siberia subsided, that I could approach Tsentrevak 
with the request to start making arrangements for the evacuation of 
German prisoners from the Ukraine Deep was my indignation when 
Tsentrevak refused my request on the pretext that it had no juris 
diction in the Ukraine They said I should have to go to the Com 
missanat for Foreign Affairs But that office, too. declared that it 
had no power to do anything because the Ukraine was a sovereign 
state to which the government in Moscow could give no directives 
The Ukrainian government, the commissariat told me, would surely 
be perfectly willing to release the prisoners as soon as the German 
government had concluded a sinular treaty with it as it had with 

’ In January 1921 the International Red Cross arranged for a conference in 
Riga in which I also partiapaced There arrangements were made for an orer 
land connection between Germany and Russia Riga was to serve as the place 
where German and Russian returnees were to be exchanged 



38 The Incompatible Allies 

the RSFSR My government however, had no particular desire to 
grant recogniuon to the Ukra»nian Communist government in this 
manner 

In vain I argued with the men of the commissariat that the 
pnsoners-of war exchange treaty of April 19 1920 covered all pris 
oners who had fallen into Russian hands during the recent war • 
The German government I reminded them had evacuated prisoners 
from all the nationalities of the former Russian Empire including 
Ukramiam Moscow s refusal to compel the Ukraine to release the 
German prisoners I concluded was a blatant violation not only of 
the above mentioned treaty but also of the customary rules of fair 
play between treaty partners Indeed the Foreign Commissariat 
admitted the soundness of my objections but kept maintaining its 
position nevertheless adding that the only May to clarify the matter 
would be direct negotiation belsveen myself and Christian G 
Rakovsky chairman of the Council of Peoples Coromtssars in the 
Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic who was expected to come to 
Moscow soon 

In this conference Rakovsky countered my arguments by saying 
that he could not see why the German government refused to con 
elude a treaty about che exchange of prisoners with the Ukrainian 
government Even if other states refused to recognize the Ukraine 
Germany he thought had the least reason of all after supporting 
the erection of an independent Ukraine under the leadership of Het 
man Skoropadsky in 1918 Or does your government think an inde 
pendent Ukraine under ray leadership will be less likely to last than 
under Skoropadsky? he concluded sarcastically 

Impatient and angry I replied that neither the recognition of the 
Ukraine nor her ability to remain alive was under discussion, at all 

The subject of our discussion I continued is nothing else than 
the German demand that a treaty be carried out which was concluded 
in good faith, and with the understanding that it covered all prisoners 
who fell into Russian hands during the war If you Chnstian 
Georgievich want to deny this now I can only consider this an at 
tempt at blackmail which the German government will not let 

• Article rv of the treaty of Apnl I9th said " German prisoners of war" within 
the meaning of this agreement may be held to include all Germans or former 
subjects of the German Reich who have c»me into Russian hands Bghc ng for the 
German Reich or against the Russian Soviet Republ c 



Relief and Reconstrvction Work 39 

under any circumstances You are shamelessly trying to make deals 
on the backs of the suffering prisoners” 

“Those are hard svords,” Rakovsky smiled ViTyly "But a young 
state that wants to get things done has to make use of any means 
suitable to bring it closer to its goal ’ * Those were his exact tvords 

Face to face with such mentality, I became convinced that the 
plight of the prisoners made it obligatory for the German govern 
ment to comply vith the demands of the Ukrainian government for 
good or for bad But several months passed before the German gov 
ernment overcame its objections On April 28, 1921, however, a year 
and four days after the conclusion of the exchange treaty with the 
RSFSR, a treat) was concluded with the Ukrainian representative 
in Berlin which followed the former agreement almost word for 
word It might almost be considered a mockery that the ‘ Ukrainian ' 
representative signing the treaty was none other than Viktor kopp 
SAlesinger signed for Germany The treaty paved the way for the 
return of the last German prisoners still on the territory of the fonner 
Russian Empire 

2 FAMINE AND £P/D£Af/C REUEF ^VORK 

FAMINE RELIEF WORK 

In June, 1921, 1 obtained leave and relumed to Germany tor the 
first time 1 was still there vshen news of a terrible famine in Russia 
began to arrive The famine appeared to surpass everything of the 
kind the poor country had heretofore experienced, and it threatened 
to bring all the successes already attained by the NEP to naught 
Faced with this catastrophe, the Soviet government decided to appeal 
to the outside world for help In its appeal it gave the severe drought 
of the two preceding years as the only cause of the famine, remaining 
silent about one of the chief causes, the disastrous agrarian policy of 
the period known as War Communism which had made the intro- 

r Readers not familiar with the Russian language might wonder why in this 
Mid ttftffeTsaVicms "wvkVj Stmei cffioaU \ addressed rheia by ^eir fnvi 

names In Russia it is customary to address all persons except children servants 
and complete strangers by their names and patronyinia I could not after all 
use the patently aristocratic title "Your Excellency nor even the bourgeois 

Mister, in talking to the head of a Soviet state Thus, even Stahn was Iosif 
Visanonovich" when I had to address him 



40 The Incompatible Allies 

duction of the NEP necessary At the same time the more moderate 
leaders of the party made use of the emergency for the purpose of 
justifying once more the turn tOTvard moderation which had been 
taVen with the introduction of the NEP * To make it more attractive 
for bourgeois capitalist states to come to the aid of the Soviet Re- 
public, the Soviet government deaded on a step designed to give 
the impression that Russia was now undergoing further political 
evolutions and was ready to make greater concessions In actual fact 
the maneuver was nothing "but bluH as soon as it had achieved its 
desired effect it was called off What the Soviet government did was 
to turn to what had remained of ihe political opposition parties in 
the country, with the proposition of some sort of civic peace, ' and 
the suggestion to participate in the famine relief operation For this 
purpose the opposition elements were to form a committee of their 
own which would enjoy privileges similar to those enjoyed by corre 
spending foreign organizations 

With good natured belief m the sincerity of the Soviet government 
and hoping that they might again establish a political foothold in 
Russia, the surviving leaders in the opposition declared their readi 
ness to collaborate Leadership in the committee was taken by three 
persons who had played a role m Russia s political life during the 
time of the Provisional Government all were known as irreconcilable 
enemies of Communism They were the so-called independent So- 
cialists Professor Sergei N Prokopovich and Katarina D Kuskota 
and the ticll known Moscow physician kishkin, formerly a member 
of the Constitutional Democratic (Cadet) party After the collapse 
of tsarism and until the Bolshevik Revolution, Kishkin had headed 
the Moscow municipal adminisiraiion 

The Cheka at first opposed the plan of collaboration with the 
political opposition but then relented, possibly hoping to be able 
to strike a more effective blow at the proper time The opportunity 
for doing so soon offered itself, for the opposition committee entered 
into direct relations with the foreign relief organizations that had 
meanwhile arrived in Russia and began to publish a news sheet 
which in Its outward appearance was an exact replica of the late 
Russkiya Vedomostt, a bourgeois liberal newspaper which had stood 

* Cf for lostance the speeches €>£ Ksimin Semashko and others at the Fourth 
Session of the Central Executite Committee (VTsIK) in early October 1921 



41 


Relief and Reconstruction IVark 

in high esteem among the progressive Russian intelligentsia for 
decades The government could not help regarding this as an open 
provocation, and decided to dissolve the committee Its members were 
arrested and first of all deported to Siberia When they were later 
expelled from Soviet Russia, Professor Prokopovich and Mrs Kuskova 
found refuge in Switzerland, where they are still living today 
Many foreign organizations had put their services at the disposi 
tion of the Soviet government. Among them was the American Relief 
Administration, organized by Herbert Hoover, which dispensed 
large sums, the German Red Cross, the Swedish Red Cross, a Vatican 
relief mission, the Quakers, representatives of the International Chil 
dren's Help, and many others The various states and their relief 
organizations were eagerly competing with one another to secure 
a share in the work to aid the starving Russian population They w ere 
not always motivated by the purest altruism, economic considera 
tions played then role, as did the diflerent governments' desire to 
obtain information about internal conditions in the Soviet Republic. 
The extent of these less altruistic motives probably differed in each 
case The Communist press in Russia later spread die venion that 
the Americans had participated m feeding the starving Russian 
population only because they wanted to get rid of their surplus vvheat 
production so as to prevent a drop in gram prices, by this device 
they sought not only to pacify the radicals in their own midst, but 
what was much more important, to erase die impression foreign aid 
had made on the Russian population That they succeeded in doing 
so IS attested by occasional indignant comwenis we heard from mem 
bers of the old ruling classes, condemning the "combination of char 
ity vvith business ” The fact remains, of course, that millions of 
human beings in Russia were saved from starvauon by foreign aid 
Such suspicious allegations faltered only before die person of 
Fridtjof Nansen, for even the Communists did not dare question 
his lack of selfish motives He had founded the Nansen Aid, headed 
by a committee of four, an Englishman, a Dutchman, an Italian, 
and myself This committee not only organized the direct distnbu 
tion of foodstuffs but also sent out food parcels collected from vvel 
fare organizations and generous individuals abroad Outside Russia, 
Nansen was aided by two outstanding advisers, the Swiss Edouard A 
Frick and the German Moritz Schlesinger, whose practical talents 



42 The Incompattble AUtes 

and experienced skill in negotiations contributed essentially toward 
transforming Nansen s noble htiiDaiiltarian intentions into highly 
useful and effective deeds 

One of Nansen s close collaborators ivould have been a bitter dis 
appointment to him had he lived to follow his subsequent career 
This man was Vidkun Quisling in v^hom Nansen placed particular 
faith Quisling was appointed chief of Nansen s branch organization 
in Kharkov and was entrusted with important tasks in the field of 
hunger relief There I met him in the fall of 1 922 on a trip through 
Russia which 1 had undertaken in order to survey the vrork of the 
Nansen organization At that time I saw in him a man who had a 
deep understanding of the needs of the starving population and who 
knew how to disarm even the distrust of the local Soviet authorities 
by his thorough objectivity I attribute the change that took place 
in Quisling later to the influence of his Russian wife a fanatical 
anti ComrauuKi and also to the fact that Quisling originally very 
favorably disposed toward the Communist experiment m Russia 
had been utterly disappointed by its later development He then 
became obsessed by the fixed idea that Destiny had called him to 
save Norway from the Communist peril and he drifted into a mental 
state in which he could no longer differentiate between means and 
end It was to be his undoing 

HUNGARIAN OFFICERS AND HUNGARIAN COMMUNISTS 

In the fall of 1921 I was given an additional assignment which was 
an indirect result of the Communist revolution in Hungary The 
Communists had corac to pot er in Hungary in 1919 but their 
regime collapsed after a short time Only a tew of its leading per 
sonalities had succeeded in fleeing from Hungary and finding refuge 
in Russia but among them was Bela Run The majority of the 
participants m the Communist coup were still languishing in Hun 
garian jails where they were subjected to treatment which cannot 
be justified even by the understandable excitement of public opinion 
over the atrocities of the Red Terror The Soviet government of 
course was not unconcerned about the fate of its Hungarian com 
rades B^la Kun too made strenuous efforts to get them free Upon 
his suggestion the Soviet government committed a grave violation 
of the rules of international law by declaring the Hunganan officers 



43 


Relief and Reconstruction Work 

still kept as Russian prisoners of war to be hostages, they svere to be 
retained m Siberia until the Hungarian Communists were released 
and guen an opportunity to emigrate to Russia 

No direct relations of any sort then existed between the Hungarian 
and the Soviet governments The former therefore turned to the 
German gov eminent w ith the request to mediate betw een it and the 
Kremlin This led to an agreement by which the Soviet government 
designated Schlesinger to represent the interests of the Communists 
jailed m Hungary, whereas die Hungarian government entrusted me 
with the task of negotiating with Moscow about the exchange of its 
officers for the Communists 

The Soviet auihonues quite obviously wished to gain time because 
they did not vs ant to send the Hungarian officen home in the sorry 
state in which they were, for this reason they deliberately let the 
negotiations drag on and on The Foreign Commissariat suddenly 
declared that it had no junsdicuon m the matter, and suggested that 
1 continue the negotiations with BHa Run himself I felt the sugges 
uon to be an insulting imposition, because even during the short 
duration of his rule in Hungary. Run had already attained the repu 
tatiorx of a mass scale hangman In the late fall and winter of 1920, 
moreover, he had been sent to the Cnmea after the defeat of Baron 
Wxangel There he had proceeded against the remainder of the 
Russian bourgeoisie with such brutality that even Lenin, who was 
never squeamish and knew no mercy in class struggle, took offense 
and ordered Bela Run to be recalled I am convinced that the Soviet 
government counted on my refusing any direct contact with Run, 
which would have enabled them to make the Hungarians and myself 
responsible for the delay in the exchange I decided, however, to de 
feat the Soviet plan and to negotiate with B61a Run because, as I 
told myself, the saving of hundreds of human lives from certain 
death justified traffic even with the devil himself. 

Further bitterness for me was added to lay contact with Run by 
the fact that, of all places, he had established himself in the former 
home of the head pastor of St Michael’s Protestant Church in Mos 
cow For more than three hundred years the church had been a re- 
ligious center for the Germans in Moscow, and a school, to which 
I was bound by many memories of my youth, was connected with the 
church 

^Vhen Bela Run received me, he was surrounded by his family. 



44 


The Incompaltble Allies 
on whom he wasted numerous tokens of affection as a tender hus 
band and loving father In this “idyDic ' setting we traded in human 
lives— a memory that even today is still revolting to me I have al 
ways been convinced that Kun’s behavior was a deliberate trick de 
signed to confuse me I simply cannot believe that a man so notorious 
for his cruelties could harbor the personal affection for his family 
he showed when I visited him But I was rewarded for all my tnbula 
lions by the success of my mission One month after my talk with 
Bdla Kun, the Hungarian officers came through Moscow on their 
homeward journey, and I saw that it was high time to rescue them 
from Siberia, for their condition confirmed my belief that I would 
have sinned against my conscience had I refused to negotiate with 
Kun * ° 


TYPHUS RELIEF WORE 

By the fall o£ 1921 I had been relieved of some of my previous 
duties among them, alt consular business In addition, the care of 
Gemian prisoners meant much less wort now that the bulk of them 
had been evacuated not only from Russia proper but also from the 
Ukrame I could therefore comply with the request of the German 
Red Cross to assist them in their activities on behalf of the starving 
Russian population Germany could furnish no foodstuffs to Russia, 
S°“set government that i. was 
*t^rJ I ° ^ ^ %ht against the epidemics which, owing to 

rla, ^ *^*‘^*'/ assumed terrifying proportions and were 

claiming million, of human lives The German offer was accepted, 

‘ appointed me its plenipotentiary tor 

of a treaty with the Soviet 
governnient defining the manner in which the German relief action 

Z, ' S? to both 

p tie, My partner in these negolnmon, was Lev B Kamenev, whom 

ne«ed li^TT'"' *““* ■” Ml problems con 

nected with relief actions for Ihe starving population Kamenev was 



45 


Relief and Reconstruction IVorft 

mamed to Trotsky's sister, and s>as one of Lenin's closest collabora 
tors As a member of the Politburo, and chairman of the Moscow 
Soviet, he exercised considerable influence Before the revolution 
he had lived abroad for many years, and as a Communist he was a 
'Westerner' by orientation In the thirties he became one of the 
first victims of the great purge trials 

Because time was pressing the Soviet government, negotiations 
uitli Kamenev developed wiUi comparative ease and led to a speedy 
agreement The Russians were so much interested in getting foreign 
relief action qmcUy under way that they made remarkable conces 
sions granting the foreign relief workers freedom of movement and 
unhindered direct contact with the local authorities and public 
agencies, and guaranteeing effective support on the part of the cen 
tral relief agency m Moscow 

Following this agreement, the German Red Cross in the fall of 1921 
sent a group of German medical speciahsu to Russia They went to 
Karan, capital of the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, 
to aid the local organizations in their fight against typhus by giving 
medical assistance and medicaments Drugs and equipment were 
shipped to Petrograd on the steamship Triton, especially chartered 
for the occasion, and then taken to Karan on a hospital tram put at 
the disposal of the German physicians by the Soviet government as 
a headquarters and means of iransporution In Moscow the German 
Red Cross set up a bacteriological laboratory to make use of practical 
experiences in Kazan for scientific work, to maintain liaison with the 
Soviet physicians and to provide the latter with scientific literature v® 

I v\a$ in chaige of the political, financial and administrative af 
fairs of the German Red Cross expedition These were very difficult 
tasks because the means at our disposal were limited and although 
general conditions in Russia had improved considerably after the 
introduction of the NEP they had uken another turn for the wone 
because of the famine The transport system was in complete rums, 
and what railroad travel still continued was disturbed by repeated 
attacks on moving trams 

At that lime Trotsky was at the peak of his power and prestige, 
and his name was invariably linked with that of Lenin I deaded to 

i®The German physicians delefauon was headed by the late Professor Peter 
Muhtens later appointed director of the Trc^ical Institute m Hamburg m due 
recognition of his scientific merits 



46 The Incompatible Allies 

secure his personal support by trying to interest him in the plans 
of the German Red Cross and the character of the German relief 
action For this purpose I made use of a member of his staff, a for 
mer tsarist naval ofEcer of high rank by the name of Berens, who 
had offered his services to the ^viet government, not out of sympathy 
for Communism, but, like many other tsarist officers, out of a mix 
ture of opportunism and Russian patriotism Upon Berens's su^es- 
uon Trotsky accepted my invitauon to visit the establishments of 
the German Red Cross 

In preparation for the visit of the People’s Commissar for Mili 
tary and Naval Affairs, his aide appeared for a discussion in ishich 
the different steps of the inspection were planned in minute detail 
Afterward, the aide made a rehearsal trip from Trotsky’s head 
quarters to the bacteriological institute, and then to our hospital 
tram The trip had demonstrated, he advised me, that we had under 
estimated by a few minutes the time required for one of the routes 
and that these minutes would have to be subtracted from the time 
devoted to the inspection I was Doored by this unusual, un Russian 
precision, but on the designated date Trotsky made me wait forty 
minutes for his appearance, and then threw all the previous careful 
airangements overboard by staying far longer than planned 

Trouky s unusual personality exerted a strange charm on all who 
came in contact with him I too was impressed by his dexterity and 
poise, by the living interesthe took m everything that was brought to 
his attenuon, and by his easy mastery of foreign languages But an 
unstable spirit lurked behind his brilliant front and Trotsky was 
bound to fail at the decisive crossroads of his hfe because he did not 
know how to act consistently and because he did not possess the 
gifts of a statesman An acquaintance of mine, a Russian engineer 
with a fine feeling for human psychology, once offered me a fitting 

characterization of Trotsky a personality “Brilliant fireworks what 

remains is a small heap of ashes" Though Trotsky could fascinate 
his collaborators with numerous ideas, they had no lasting effect be- 
cause he did not follow them through and did not know how to super 
vise their execution At mass meeungs he would rouse his audience 
to spontaneous enthusiasm by his brilliant oratory, but this availed 
him little since Stalm took care that his own obedient creatures 
passed resolutions carefully prepared long beforehand The funda 
mental tragedy of Trotsky’s penonality lies in the fact that his own 



47 


Relief and Reconstniction \Vork 

failures helped a man like Stalin to a position of po^er from which 
he could threaten the enure IVesiem World I am inclined to be 
he^e that Trotsky’s doctrinaire theories of ' permanent re\oluuon ’ 
^\ould hate been of far less danger to the world than Sulm’s un 
scrupulous determination 

Trotsky Stas visibly impressed by the facilities of the German Red 
Cross that vte shotted to him In turn, we basked m his flattering 
praise of "German efficiency, which the world ought to take as an 
example ’’ Osving to defeat in the war, and to its political and eco- 
nomic consequences, German sell-esceem had suffered fo such an ex 
tent that Germans at that time welcomed every opportunity to re 
establish It, a factor that played a considerable psychological role in 
the re-establishment of Geiroan Russian relations after the First 
World War German scientific, econoniic. and military circles felt 
rejected and avoided by fomier enemy countries The Russians, 
however, seemed willing to give rccctgniuon to German achievements 
and to revive the relauons of former times, thus opening what ap- 
peared to be a way out of Germany $ isolation The dangers of Soviet 
interference in Germany's internal developmenu were consciously 
disregarded, the general opinion seemed to be that the German peo- 
ple was immune against Communism, and that the New Economic 
Policy, moreover, v\as the beginning of an internal evolution m 
Russia away from revolutionary ambitions 

^Vhen Trotsky took leave, he asked me whether he might do us 
any favor I replied that we v>erc very much in need of a special car 
for our hospital tram But since the tram was to leave for Kazan 
during the night, the car would have to be hitched on that same 
evening Trotsky promised to make the necessary arrangements at 
once, and indeed, no more than a half hour later, the chief of the 
military transport administration, Arahanov, appeared before me 
He too was a former tsarist officer who had skillfully adjusted to the 
new rulen and, for the rest, made use of his posiuon for the purpose 
of gaming material advantages Clad in a smardy tailored uniform, 
with shining boots, and with a riding crop which he handled with 
emphasized nonchalance, he gave an appearance that was in op- 
pressive contrast to the pitiful figures in his large entourage, most 
miserable among them the old engineers from the Railroad Com 
missanat Arzhanov listened to our request and with the tone of a 
master, commanded his subordinates to deliver the desired car at 



48 The Incompatible Allies 

once, but the latter declared that there was no such car to be found 
jn all the rail yards of Moscow ‘ Either the car is here in three 
hours, or else " These Words, and a significant gesture with the 
riding whip, silenced the engineers and painfully embarrassed me 
Sure enough, the special car was in our hands three hours later, but 
I had ominous visions of the forms in which the system would de 
velop further in Russia, if it wanted to succeed in the face of human 
nature and material difficulties 

In Rajan the hospital tram came upon the typhus epidemic with 
all Its horrors I myself went to Kazan some months later, and what 
I saw there belongs to the most terrible impressions of my life The 
hospitals were so overfilled with those caught by the epidemic, peo- 
ple reduced to ghostly skeletons, that two or even three patients had 
to share one pallet, and there were others who had to he on the bare 
floor The completely exhausted doctors and nurses had to chmb 
over them in order to get to the other patients I was utterly dejected 
by the awareness that all of our help was hardly more than a drop 
in a great ocean of misery A few years later my feeling of despair 
gave way to admiration for the viuliiy of the Russian people, which 
was astonishing the world by its rapid population increase as early 
as 1924 

Typhus took i« victims also from among the foreign relief per 
sonnel Among the many people from my own immediate environ 
ment who were taken away was the English physician Dr Farrar, 
one of Fridtjof Nansen's companions on one of his trips into the 
famine areas, and the rising young German scientist Dr Gartner, 
who had performed his duty m the hospitals of Kazan in an exemplary 
manner I myself was infected with the dreaded disease by a typhus 
louse in February, 1922, during an official trip to Petrograd, and 
barely escaped death My courageous wife hurried to Moscow im 
mediately upon the news of my sickness, when she arrived after a 
fortnight I had not yet regained consciousness I owe my life to her 
untiring care and to the skill of the experienced Moscow physician 
Dr Ling, but another four months had to pass before I could resume 
my work 



Ill TOWARD THE 
RESUMPTION OF NORMAL 
GERMAN-SOVIET RELATIONS 


1 INITIAL DIFFICULTIES 

THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN 
DR SIMONS AND G V CHICHERIN 

Great as the satisfaction was which the humamtanan work of 
prisoner, famine, and epidemic relief afforded me, 1 had from the 
day of my departure for Moscow considered n my chief mission to 
contribute toward the normalization of general political and eco 
nomic relations between Germany and Soviet Russia Of course, back 
m the summer of 1920, the prospects of such a normalization uere 
poor indeed, yet attempts were made repeatedly to disturb them 
In the middle of July, for instance, the Pans edition of the Chi* 
etjgo Tribune bore the following headline Soviet Government 
Doomed, and then, ‘ It is only a question of time, asserts first Ger 
man envoy ’ The article underneath began with the statement that 
the paper had obtained possession of the fint private letter I had 
written from Moscow The letter was said to contain a detailed ac 
count of the horrible conditions prevailing in Russia and to have 
concluded with the prediction that the fate of the Soviet govern 
ment was sealed and its fall was only a matter of ume The article 
further contained lengthy excerpts from a letter allegedly written 
by me, in ivhich conditions in Russia were pictured in the blackest 
colors, and with fantastic exaggerations. Among other things, for 
TTn.ttfriLe,\'(vas“tjaiAt:d’ iiskfifraigxaitd'&oitWiyit.tfft •tVtcsvoiicmTiiei 
by an electrically charged barbed wire enclosure severing all com- 
munication of the Moscow population with the outer world 


49 



50 


The Incompatible Allies 
I had not written any pnvate letters at all during the fint four 
weeks of my stay m Moscow, and certainly not the one quoted by 
the paper The Chicago Tribune article was therefore nothing more 
than an unscrupulous attempt to make my position vis i vis the 
Soviet government impossible from the %ery beginning and thus to 
sabotage the establishment of any relations between Germany and 
the Soviet Republic Luckily, political friends of mine m Berlin 
called my attention to the article m time This enabled me to prove 
to the Soviet government, even before they had learned of the matter, 
that the article was a viaous forgery, for my first mail from Moscow 
had not )et arrived m Berlin on the day the article was published 
in Pans The hurry with which the article had been published 
enabled me to unmask the fraud otherwise the Soviet government 
would probably have declined permission for me to stay on in 
Moscow 


A tew days after 1 had this narrow escape, the then foreign minister, 
Dr Walther Simons, wrote a long letter lo Chicherm in which he 
expressed the wish of the German government to restore diplomauc 
relations with Soviet Russia It seems that the immediate reason for 
the letter was Simons s desire lo attach a German liaison officer to 
me right wing of the Soviet armies then rolling, unchecled, into 
Poland, for the purpose of preventing untoward incidents when the 
Red Amy approached the old German border But the long range 
vista of renewed diplomatic relations which the letter opened m 
far more significant This vista m turn, was by no means unrelated 
to the rmmediaie pretext on which the Icllcr had been written The 
apid advance of the Red Army through Poland which toot them 
almost to the gates of Warsaw and up to the borders of East Prussia 
had produced a sate of near panic in Germany In a few places, as 
r o act, oviet troops had actually crossed the borders of 
and Strassburg at 

Pp/a ^ "eation of a Soviet regime had been made True, the 
Red ^y units withdrew at once upon German protesu. neverthe 
less, he foreign minister decided that Germany’s relations with 
before could no longer remain unregulated and undefined as 


better to Chicherm, Dr Simons combined his hopes for the 
mp ion o iplomatic relations with a suggestion as to how the 
oviet government might contnbute to such a rapprochement. The 



Resumption of Normal German Soviet Relations 51 

chief cause for the rupture of relations, he opined, had been the 
Soviet refusal to make sufficient amends for the assassination of Count 
Mirbach Harff Even though it should, admittedly, have been impos 
sible to punish the murderers, the German people — he ivTote — might 
at least expect some public sausfaction for the s lolation of its na- 
tional honor Therefore he suggested to the people's commissar that 
a ceremony be performed at which the German flag ssould solemnly 
be raised on top of the Berg palace while a company of Soviet troops, 
led by an officer, ivas to salute and subsequently parade in front of 
the building "If you agree to such a ceremony, my dear people’s 
commissar, you might at the same time make suggestions concern 
ing the time and place for a joint conference about the resumption 
of diplomatic and economic relations" With words somewhat like 
these, the minister closed his letter 
Chichenn's handwTitten reply, several pages long, in faultless Ger 
man, was handed me a few days later for transmittal to Dr Simons 
He expressed his sincere satisfaction that the latter had provided an 
opportunity for reneii-ed relations between the two countries 
Frankly, he said, the Soviet government had been wondering why 
the possibility had been so long disregarded by Germany After all, 
tsvo underprivileged nations were natural partners, given mutual 
good will and understanding He even indulged in a shore ideologi- 
cal discourse to affirm that the Communist state had no intentions 
of forang its way of life upon other nations The Marxist theory of 
soaal development, he said, «as an organic one a Communist was 
far too realistic to make any foolish attempts to foster his ideas of 
soaal organization on an unwilling nation by force of arms In short, 
he assured the foreign minister that Germany had nothing to fear 
from contacts with the Soviet state 

But when he came to discussing the su^;ested ceremony of atone 
ment for the death of the ambassador. Chicherin was adamant In 
actual fact, nothing would have been simpler for the Soviet gov 
emment than to grant the German wish The ceremony would have 
been held in a small side street of Rfoscow, which could have been 
closed to all other traffic to avoid a large audience Thus attendance 
could have been limited to a resmeted arde, the population at large 
need not have learned anything about it But the suggestion seems 
to have been more than the Soviet insistence on the honor and 
prestige of the proletarian regime could stomach In addition. 



52 T'he IncompaUble Allies 

Chicherin or his superiors maj have been overconfident of a speedy 
victory in Poland and thus believed, perhaps that they could well 
afford to refuse the wooing of the German government The victory 
of the French Polish forces quickly reversed the situation "With the 
failure of Soviet dreams of carryii^ the proletarian revolution into 
the heart of Europe, it Vas now the Soviet governments turn to 
seek a rapprochement with Germany But the ardor of the German 
foreign minister appeared to have cooled a bit At the same time 
the defeat of Tukhachevsky s armies resulted m a marked sharpen 
ing of the Western Allies attitude lotvard Germany, particularly 
m the question of reparations and in reaction to Western mtran 
sigence a number of influential German politicians and statesmen 
began to reconsider the idea that the creation of better German 
Soviet relations might be the most effective means of lorcing the 
Entente powers into rooderaiion 

Before following the subsequent events in the relations between 
Soviet Russia and Germany it is necessary, however, to cast a 
fleeting glance on conditions in Russia at the time 

WILL THE BOLSHEVIKS RETAIN STATE POWER? ’ 

A foreigner living in Moscow in 1920 had far better opportunities 
of finding out about the true situation in Soviet Russia than he 
would today I£ our movements were severely restricted, this was 
due more to the breakdown of the communications system than to 
reasons of state security The Soviet security organs had not yet 
thought It necessary at that time to prevent all contacts between the 
few foreigners residing in Moscow in an official capacity and die 
local population Many personalities who had been prominent in 
the government in soaety, or m intellectual circles of pre Bolshevik 
Russia and who possessed ndi knowledge and experience were still 
in Moscow and were only too glad to come together with foreigners 
My office its waiting room and at times even the staircase were 
always crowded with oppositionists who came for help in personal 
matters who wanted to talk to a non Communist foreigner, or who 
attempted to draw me into anti Bolshevik conspiracies If there were 
any facts or rumors that reflected ill on the staying power of the 
regime, I was always sure to learn about them from these visitors 
On the other hand, the government and the ruling party themselves 



ReiumpUon of Normal German-Soviet Relations 53 

had not yet become so secreti\e and untouchable as they are toda) 
Rival factions within the party were still permuted to publish their 
views concerning official party policy 
The period from the fall of 1918 to March, 1921, has become 
knosvn by the name of “War Communism" This was the period 
during sshich the Bolshevik regime had to fight for us life continu 
ously against seemingly heavy odds The ruling party itself was 
seriously shaken by opposition moiemcnts within us ranks More 
o^e^, the activity of opposition patties had not yet been liquidated 
completely ^Vithm the territory under its control, the lojalty of the 
peasantry had turned into passive resistance, even that of the urban 
proletariat was strained to the breaking point and m March, 1921, 
U broke into open rebellion at Kronstadt Around the periphery of 
Bolshevik dominated territory, counterrevolutionary armies, sup- 
ported by Allied intervention forces, were threatening, though most 
of the White Army was defeated by the middle of 1920 
The exigencies of this hfeand-death struggle transformed Soviet 
Russia into a besieged fortress and its economy into a war economy 
with the sole aim of helping to destroy the enemy During this 
“Heroic Period of the Great Russian Revolution, as one Soviet 
writer has called it, the peasant was forced to give his enure produce, 
except for a small quanuty far below the extreme subsistence mini 
mum, to the state The urban population v^as put on scanty rations 
which were distributed with great irregularity frequently they 
were not given out at all Lacking fuel and raw materials, most of 
the factories ceased to run The workers Red into the country, where 
they hoped to keep from starving Trade had virtually died, partly 
because of the increasing pace of nationalization and partly because 
commodities were lacking, and the currency was rapidly deteriorat 
ing 

These chaotic conditions were further aggravated and at the 
same time their emergency character obscured by the conviction 
current among Communist leaders at the time that such chaos would 
lead directly and quickly into real Communism They thought that 
the social structure for which they had made the revolution was just 
around the comer Their financial policy, based on the doctrine that 
money would ‘ wither away” in the Communist society, illustrates 
their belief The devaluation of the ruble was promoted systemati- 
cally The People’s Commissar for Finance, Krestinsky, even pub- 



The Incompatible AUtcS 

hshed a pamphlet under the title "How to Make the Ruble Drop to 
Zero Most Speedily” 

The personal hardships under which everyone in Russia had to 
suffer were enormous, for the government paid no attention to the 
private needs of the population Railroad trips, for instance, were 
subject to official approval, which was granted only if the state had 
an interest m the traveler's purpose True, the railroads as well as 
the mails were operated gratis but they were all the more unreliable 
m their operations In our offices and homes, we of the German 
relief agency ran out of fuel early in 1921 Because deep snowdrifts 
that no one troubled to plow made it impossible for us to cart in fuel 
on our own vehicles, we shivered Food rations were so scanty that 
some of my personnel were on the veige of collapse Luckily, I 
seemed to be of stronger constitution, m any event I withstood the 
hardships of that winter rather well 
All news about the misery in Russia and the difficult situation o! 
the Soviet governmeitt was eagerly reported by the press in the 
ietnunstrale that the days of 
' r"' newspapers would not 

ditiLaf ' Its difficulties but also exaggerate them and invent ad 
urei^mn b’l,''!,™’ >» “rrect the im 

XaTceitan "“r" the late fall of 1920, 

cfuld Z ■» ''oM 'hM the Bolshevik regime 

streneth b ih i, they conunued to overestimate the 

even^o^i? “PPOftto" nnd of the Whites And 

develonment of?' '* ° ™“‘nJ'tted themselves entirely to the 
tarsia T famdship continued m these early 

years to maintain active contact with White elements 

be ZTomteil' f’P to pieces could 

dia eve? h ''"■>”S>tt shows today 

ubon'r ™ ™ Eut some of the theor.e; 

^e.l?nu 7 "«•”“= "'re based on com 

serte^ZT “P""'"'* for msmnee. there were people who a, 

would never bftotae'Sbv'ttR P“”““ 

to miess how rn, < c * Russian people I shall not venture 
ful thinking ^ opinions were based primarily on wish 

I wrote many a letter to Schlesinger and Baron von Maltzan, of 



Resumption oj Normal GermanSemtet Relations 55 

the Poreign Ministry, attempting to put the alarming news from 
Russia into proper perspective I pointed out to them that the broad 
masses of the population were indeed fed up with Bolshevik rule, 
but that m spite of this there ivas no reason to suppose that any sub 
staniial part of the population desired a return to the prerevolution 
ary order ^ And 1 warned them tliat, in spite of all news reporting 
the negative side of the Bolshevik regime in spue of hunger, cold, 
and bitter feeling among the broad masses of the people, the Soviet 
government had so far emerged stronger and more consolidated from 
every crisis The forces which m the beginning might have destro)ed 
It from within were rapidly disappearing All attempts to destroy 
the regime from the outside, by means of intervention failed mainly 
because interventions had been undertaken « ith insufficient military 
means the forces of intervention had been divided, and they had 
utterly failed to take the social needs of the Russian people into 
account A politically conscious and mihtanly vvell equipped cam 
paign, undertaken in common by all European states might indeed 
make an end to the Soviet regime, 1 thought But I did not think that 
Europe at that time was in any condition to muster the necessary 
material and ideological forces 

In short, my opinion was^and 1 did not hesitate to say sc^that 
the Soviet government was firmly m the saddle, and that the German 
government would have to make this the basis of us actions My 
interpretation met with so little understanding in Germany that w ell 
meaning friends advised me to adapt my reports a little to prevail 
ing attitudes otherwise I might easily be suspected of harboring 
pro-Soviet views I did not allow this to disturb me, however, and 
maintained the opinions which I thought were the correct ones The 
justification of my position by later events recompensed me for the 
difficulties I had to surmount initially 

It IS possible that my favorable reports concerning the staying 
power of iheSoviet regime were based not only on a detached analysis 
of the situation but also on some wishful thinking It is true that, 
personally, I should have had a vested interest m the destruction of 
the Bolshevik regime and the restitution of private property But 

1 TTiat IS the primary reason tor the failure of the White Guardist movement, 
which offered the people no belter prospecis than return of the discredited 
tsarist regime Their poJitJtal slupiditj gave lenui a decisive boJd over ibe 



56 The Incompatible Allies 

from the point ol view of Gennan foieign policy I saw certain ad 
vantages of a negative nature to be derived from the continued ex 
jstence of the Soviet government For I feared that this regime could 
be replaced only by a governriient which might make common cause 
with the Western Allies, thus adding new burdens to the ones inv 
posed by the Versailles Treaty 

It was not until Soviet Russia had successfully come out of a ivar 
with Poland and had made an end to Baron VVrangel the last of 
the Wliite Guard generals in October that the growing consolida 
tion of the regime was more and more recognized as a fact even in 
Berlin And practical consequences had to be drawn from this fact 
in the interest of the Reich How touchy a problem it was to draw 
such consequences -will be shown by ibe following incident caused by 
the third anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power 

THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION 

Late in the afternoon on November 7 1920 the People s Com 
missar for Foreign Affairs Chichenn sent me an invitation to an 
olEctal dinner given for the foreign representatives in Moscow in the 
guest house of the commissariat The occasion was the third an 
mversary of the October Revolution * The guest house in those days 
was a magnificent palace situated on the right bank of the Moskva 
River directly across from the Kremlin Before the ret olution it had 
belonged to a Ukrainian sugar magnate by ihe name of Khanto- 
nenko After the resumption of diplomatic relations with Great 
Britain the Soviet government offered the building to the British 
Embassy which is still occupying it today 

Chichenn s inviiaiion subjected me to a grave dilemma Until 
then there had been no precedent for the participation of an official 
representative of bourgeois democratic governments m an official 
celebration honoring the Bolshevik Revolution Nevertheless I de 
cided to accept the invitation since I argued that my failure to ap- 


rThe Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 has beceme known as the October Resolu 
turn because Lemn and his parly procla vued the Soviet Republic on a day wh cb 
according to the Julian calendar then dfeane in Russia earned the date of 
Octolitt 25th This calendar is thirteen days behind the Gregorian calendar at 
cepced by the rest of the world so that in the West the day was November "th 
Ever since the Gregorian calendar was introduced in Russia in February 1918 
it 15 November 7th which is celebrated as the anniversary of the October Revolu 

tlOP 



Resumption of Normal German Soviet Relations 57 

pear A\ould disturb my official relauons with the Soviet government 
and jeopardize the interests of the German prisoners of war in Rus 
sia I should not have acted differently even if I could have foreseen 
the political storm my attendance at tiie dinner unleashed m Ger 
manj 

It was a small group of persons that accepted Chicherin’s invita 
tion that evening, and one that corresponded to the limited extent 
of relations then existing between the Soviet state and the outside 
world There were, besides myself, Pnnce AJi Cooh Khan, the ambas 
sador of Persia, who for many years represented his country s inter 
ests in Moscow, shrewdly weighing the advantages and dangers of 
friendly relations between Soviet Russia and Persia, the ambassador 
of Afghanistan, General Mohammed Vah Khan an outspoken foe 
of England who saw little danger m accepting help against Britain 
from the Soviet state Sekkia Bey special envoy of Turkey, as well 
as representauves of the three Baltic States without diplomatic status, 
who functioned as chiefs of ciuzenship and repatriation commis- 
sions At the same time they devoted at least as much time and at 
tention to their own little businesses as to problems of atizenship 
and resettlement which were a result of the separation of the Baltic 
States from the former Russian Empire The only favorable excep 
tion was Lithuania s intelligent and cultured reprcsentauve, Jurgis 
K Baltrushaitis a well known Russian lyric poet whom the Lithua 
man government had appointed as its minister to Moscow because 
he was of Lithuanian origin and knew Russia like his own vest 
pocket For many years to come Baltrushaitis was the best informed 
member of the Moscow diplomauc corps, until the GPU finally 
sealed him oS from the outside world, as it did all the others 

Persia and Afghanistan had been represented by ambassadors in 
Moscow ever since die late fail of 1920, even though formal treaties 
were not signed by these two countries until February, 1921 Their 
presence was an indication of the importance which the Soviet gov 
ernment attributed at that time to its southern and southeastern 
neighbors and mutual relations with them The Soviet leaders started 
with the assumption that they needed security and cover in the East 
if they Wished to realize their world revofutionary aims in the TVest 
At the same time, Persia, Afghanistan, and Turkey were seeking the 
protection of the Soviet Republic m the belief that only in this man 
ner could tliey stand up against England as independent nations 
Chicherin was very active in developing and pursuing this policy. 



58 The Incompatible Allies 

since he vas convinced that England was the primary and immediate 
threat to the Soviet state to counter die threat Russia i\ould have 
to make use o£ its natural allies, * that is, those states which also felt 
themselves threatened hy England * 

No contrast could be greater than that between the primitive and 
modest nature of the celebration of November 7, 1920, in the guest 
house of the Moscow Foreign Commissariat, and the brilliance and 
richness distinguishing official celebrations irt the Soviet Union to- 
day Our banquet began by Chidienn making his guests await his 
appearance for an hour and a half the Orientals shre^idly com 
mented that apparently the Communists had abolished even courtesy 
as a bourgeois prejudice Furthermore, Chicherin on that evening 
disregarded all rules of protocol (with which he must have been 
familiar from old tunes) for he made me sit at his right, between him 
self and his assistant Limnov, m order to give due emphasis to the 
presence ol the first and only representative oi a great power from the 
West 

Chichetm's second assistant, good looking Lev Karakhan wt 
across from the host flanked by the ambassadors of Persia and A£ 
ghanistan His smooth and assured dexterity was m marked contrast 
to the many httle inadequacies of the banquet For instance, the 
waiters, counter to the most elementary rules of their profession, con 
sistently offered the food from the right at the same time encourag 
ing the guests with friendly words to take more the quality of the 
food would not have honored even a second rate restautaai, and, 
lacking another drink the guests had to be satisfied with a thin rasp- 
berry lemonade Chicherin and 1 poured for each other 

That very same esening the Soviet government announced to the 
world by radio that the Foreign Commissariat had given a dinner, m 

s The idea that ihe rising nations of the East arc the reserve army of the prole 
unan world revolution was jusi then being developed fully by Lenin and other 
ideologists of the Communist movement 1 heard Chicherin expound it once at 
a dinner given in late February 1921 by the Afghan Embassy in celebration of 
the third anniversary of Afghanistan s declaration of independence and the ac 
ceuinn to the ihrone of Amanullah Khan 

Soviet friendship with Turkey at that tune was complicated by the revolution 
ary events vn Transcaucasia especially Georgia where a Social Democratic legiiae 
was fighting for its independence both from Communist Russia and from Turkey 
the hereditary oppressor It was a curious fact that monarchist Afghanistan was 
promised every possible assistance by Moscow whereas the socialist Republic of 
Georgia was systematically strangled to death 



Resumption of Normal German-Soviet Relations 59 

celebratjon of the anniversary of the October Revolution at uhich 
all foreign representatives present m Moscow had participated and 
had expressed their best wishes for the continued wellbeing of the 
Soviet Republic There follov ed the names of all persons who had 
attended the dinner giving the states each one represented My name 
significantly was at the head of the list 

The reaction which this announcement caused in Germany par 
ijcularly in the press of the extreme rightist German Folk party 
(Deutschvolkische Partei) was not long in coming It began with 
angry notes to the German government demanding to know whether 
the cabinet was informed of the participation in this celebration of 
an alleged German representative in Moscow or whether Herr 
Hdger was making his own independent foreign policy I was ac 
cused of having sat down behind the same table at the head of a 
horde of Asiatics together with bloodstained murderers and hang 
men in order to discuss with them the prospects of world revolution 
instead of caring about the fate of the tortured German prisoners 
of war in Russia These ill tempered eruptions were followed by 
an interpellation made in the Reichsug by the German Folk party 
Its leader a Afajor Henmng accused me of pro-Communist leanings 
and demanded my immediate recall from Moscow The matter fizzled 
out after a matier-of fact reply by Dr Simons and the Reich com 
tnissar for prisoner-of war relief Stucklen But similar attacks were 
to follow 

2 CRISIS AND RESOLUTION 

Before German Soviet relations could take a real turn for the bet 
ter my conviction that the Bolshevik regime was firmly and strongly 
in the saddle w as to be tested by a severe crisis which not only marked 
a turn in the foreign relations of the Soviet government but also in 
augurated an entirely new period in the history of the Russian Revo- 
lution 

The crisis of War Communism was evoked by the conditions in 
the country which had become catastrophic when the peasants be 
gan to offer desperate resistance against the prodrazverstka the forced 
requisition of all agricultural produce which the government was 
carrying out mercilessly The peasants began to attack and repulse 
the agents ordered to carry out the requisitions Much worse was 



60 The Incompatible Allies 

the fate of the members of the punitive expeditions dispatched into 
the country by the government Peasants who got hold of them would 
bury them alive up to the neck, cut out their eyes, tear out their 
tongues, and commit similar unspeakable atrocities, which only 
had the effect of fanning passions on both sides to greater heat 
Peasant revolt spread over the entire country like a grass fire, and 
gram supplies virtually stopped coming into the cities 

The agrarian crisis found its political reflection in the Eighth All 
Russian Congress of Soviets, which took place in the last tveek of 
December, 1920, in the Bolshoi Theater of Moscow I attended the 
Congress as a visitor at the invitation of the Soviet government * The 
Eighth Soviet Congress was the last at which an opposition party, the 
Menshevik party, was represented tn addition to members of the 
Communist party and non party elements regarded as absolutely 
trustworthy During the following year the Menshevik party was 
ehminated from Soviet political life its leaders were arrested and 
banished to Siberia or escaped into exile abroad But the Eighth 
Congress was high lighted by the last public discussion that has 
taken place in Russia between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks 1 watched 
the event from the front row of the stage box, less than thirty feet 
from the speakers’ rosttum From my vantage point I could also ob 
serve the audience’s reaction to the crowd filling the main floor 
The ^fenshevlk party had sent forth Fedor Dan, one of its leading 
intellects and best orators to subject the Bolsheviks’ agrarian policies 
to merciless criticism Wuh sharp words Dan castigated the methods 
of the Bolshevik rulers who were forcibly compelling the Russian 
peasant to give up his enure agricultural produce, not leaving him 
enough even to support his own frugal life The speaker demon 
strated convincingly that agricultural production would only con 
tinue to decrease, and that the rural population would perish miser 
ably if present policies were continued The only way out of the 
catastrophic situation, he declared consisted of giving the peasantry 
an incentive to raise production Instead of forcing the peasant to 
give up all his produce, the government should fix specific quantities 
* At that time Ihe All Ruuum Congress of Soviets was formally the hearer of 
sovereign government authority in the RSFSR When the Soviet Union was formed 
in 1923 this sovereignty was irans fe rred to the All Union Congress of Soviets 
Today according to Che 193S Coiucitution formal sovereignty rests with the 
Supreme Soviet of the USSR 



Resumption of Normal GermanSotnct Relations 61 

to be delivered, leaving the peasant to dispose freely of his remain 
ing surplus 

The applause following Dan's speech left no doubt that the over 
whelming majorit) of the audience was in agreement with him. at 
the same time I felt clearly that, because of the physical and ideo- 
logical pressure already being exerted on the populauon at that 
time, the speech had produced helplessness and consternation among 
the audience This was immediately exploited by the chairman, who 
announced quicVly that Lenm personally would give a proper reply 
to the speaker The magic effect of the name strained the tension 
among the audience virtually to the breaking point. Dead silence 
prevailed m the auditorium while all eyes were directed toward the 
end of the aisle that had formed in the middle of the stage, for those 
sitting on the stage had moved closer together to leave a path for 
Lenm to come to the footlights An ovemhelming storm of applause 
and acclamation broke as soon as the crowd sighted Lemn, who 
hurried to the front of the stage with small, rapid steps 

After Lenm had begun speaking 1 was at fint disappointed At 
first si^t he seemed to have nothing to hold and inspire the masses 
I saw a short man, with a pointed reddish beard and Mongolian fea 
tures, who talked widi a minor speech defect But the longer he 
spoke gripping the masses with a flood of eager impressive elo- 
quence, the more 1 became aware that the Bolsheviks might never 
have come to power without the spell exercised on the masses by 
Lenm As an orator he possessed the particular gift of never allow 
mg the attenuon of his audience to relax Slowly and systematically, 
he built up his arguments until at last he delivered the decisive 
blow 

On this particular evening also, Lenm succeeded, by means of 
his superior dialectical skill m quickly changing the minds of the 
audience After first building up broadly conceived background argu 
ments he became more and more precise, and finally steered straight 
toward his real aim of revealing the prereding speaker as a traitor to 
the interests of the i\orkmg class He accused the Menshevik party 
of desiring^ nothing less than to throw the yoke of capitalism once 
more over the neck of the rural workingman by their proposal to 
let the peasants freely dispose of their surplus produce When he 
closed his three-and a half hour speech with the words, ‘ The ‘in 



62 The Incompatible Allies 

centive which this lackey of capitalum wants to sell you as the 
means of escaping from our present misery is nothing else than a re- 
turn to the coercive rule o! the tsarsl the crowd broke into a tu 
multuous ovation completely forgetting — it seemed to me — that they 
had shortly before assented to the compelling logic of the Menshevik 
Dan 

Thus the Menshevik party suffered a decisive defeat at the Eighth 
Congress of Soviets This defeat was sealed three months later in 
March 1921 when at the Tenth Communist Party Congress Lenin 
justified the introduction of the New Economic Policy with the same 
arguments Dan had adduced \n December 1920 in his attempt to 
convince the Soviet government of the necessity of changes in its 
agrarian policy Nothing that Dan had said m vam at that time 
was missing from Lenin s speech at the Tenth Party Congress begin 
ning with an itemization of the mistakes that had been made then 
going to the necessity of providing an incentive for the peasants 
to produce more and ending with the demand to let the peasant dis 
pose freely of the produce remaining in his hands after deduction of 
a fixed tax in kind Here we have a classic example of the cynicism 
with which the Bolshevik party used to annihilate all opposition only 
to appropriate its arguments for its own benefit- 

KRONSTADT AND THE NEP 

Not only the agrarian crisu but the entire crisis of War Com 
munisni came to a head when toward the end of February 1921 a 
revolt broke out in the naval fortress of Kronstadt situated on the 
Gulf of Finland Subsequent Soviet historiography has attempted to 
make counterrevolutionary elements responsible for the rebellion 
In actual fact it was made by the same radical sailors who m 1917 
had played a decisive role in the Bolshevik seizure of potser Now 
they felt that they and their revolutionary ideals had been be 
trayed by the oppressive terror regime of Wax Communism of which 
the agrarian policy was only one aspect The men behind the Kron 
stadt rebellion were neither reactionaries nor even the unconscious 
took of reaction they were Socialists who led the struggle against 
Moscow under the slogan For the Soviet system but without the 
•Communists A friend of mine who was working at the University 



63 


Resumption of Normal German Soviet Relations 

of ^foscow at the time told me o£ the enthusiasm with Avhich the stu 
dents vho svere party memben •went out to fight against the Kron 
stadt rebellion cominced that they were dealing with enemies of 
the Russian people and the Russian Resolution and of the dejection 
of those s\ho returned to Moscow after they had learned the purely 
proletarian origin of this rc'olt 

The agrarian crisis and the Kronstadt rebellion evoked the wide 
spread impression throughout the world that the days of Bolshevik 
rule ssere now finally at an end Bull who had an opportunity to 
watch the deselopment from ivithin the country observed daily how 
unsv\er\mgly the rulers in the kremlin stuck to their aim with what 
ruthless consistency they applied every means necessitated by the 
situation At the same time there were many indications to show the 
inadequate organization weakness and disunity of those elements 
which believed they could challenge die Soviet government. I never 
had any doubts concerning the outcome of the unequal struggle 

However before reports of my convictions arrived in Berlin I 
received an order by telegraph demanding that I establish contact 
at the earliest possible moment with those individuals and groups 
that would soon step into the place of the Bolsheviks so that there 
would be no interruption m my activities For the immediate fall 
of the Soviet government was taken for granted If there vvas no 
interruption in my activities m the end this is due only to the fact 
that 1 paid no regard to my orders from Berlin m spite of the quan 
tity of alarming reports with which Moscow circles opposed to the 
regime provided me only too willingly Had I followed Berlins 
directions I should have jeopardized my own position and delivered 
even more victims to the vengeance of the Soviet government 

With the introduction of the NEP the previous system of prod 
razverstka (forced gram requisitioning) was abolished and replaced 
by the prodnalog a fixed tax in kind The peasants vs ere now obliged 
to give up only a specific portion of their produce leaving them to 
dispose freely of all production in excess Just as Dan had done Lenm 
justified his ovsn proposition with the necessity of giving the peasant 
an incentive to raise his production in the interest of supplying the 
urban population with food Lenin countered any possible protests 
according to which the right to dispose freely of surpluses might lead 
to a revival of commodity exchange on a capitalistic basis by assur 



^ The Incompatible Allies 

mg his comrades that statecontroUed co-operatives svere to buy up 
all agricultural produce flowing into the market These same co- 
openitnes would m turn provide the rural population with articles 
ot ronsumption, and thus the development of capitalistic commodity 
trading by private individuals would be curbed Soon it appeared 
however, that the co-operatives were in no way up to their task In 
order to obtain the required articles of consumption, it became 
necessary to uncover hidden private hoardings and to stinmlatc 
private enterprise and initiative to produce There sttll were peo- 
ple who, m spite of two and a half year, of Bolshevik rule, were 
in control of stores of commodities and capital, who possessed an 
enterprising spirit and combined ,t with the deepest distrust of all 
memures undertaken by the Soviet government They had to be put 

that I •'>' NEP by Lenin-s assurance 

thm policy was being planned seriously and for a long ume” 

pact of thrS’ ? , «P«lation, Under^tlie im 

fm de the situation in die coun 

Mmv '“"t The revolts ceased, spring 

to fen bnrmd hoarded stores of produce, up 

surm ■>>' ‘ht peasants, reappeamd in 
trade a “h “ther obstacles to private 

tutarorodi r aT f'^tabbshmen. of trade tn aptcul 

the shortest ti’ilie'*fil? d Pt^ate mitialive which alter 

With new I t Tf, a a R'PPhhc 

What develo d' a' >n which tt had been lying 

fe NEP blTa d"‘ ‘ht tnnoducttnn of 

menf /otna far T”' d a" '’"5"“' *0 govern 

to^iffe^p'^uiTtior 

an° ha'd mtV" Pt<xl“ce bad been permitted, the peas 

to titchange the money thuLb 
TmdM thef "“d “d artides ot consumption 

wide cmcles o ih"”""”?’ 

oftheNEP Th "“‘t”'*" ‘‘fawn into the consequences 

lo take into a ** created demands which the government had 

^rLTr' jeopardize the outcome o£ 

months richly stocke’d food"*! ” ” *at within a few 

lewelers shnn u ^ stores, elegant restaurants, and even 
jewelers shops mushruomed m a city hke Moscosv. where War Com 



Resumption of Normal German-Soviet Relations 65 

munism had been in full swing as late as Mardi, 1921, where the 
population had been put on tlie most pitiful rations, and where 
nothing, literally nothing, could ha\e been purchased in the stores 

Soviet financial policies, loo, had to be subjected to a speedy re 
Msion, since the demand, voiced theretofore, for a complete devalua 
twn of the ruble and the abohtioR of all monev had been earned to 
an absurdity by die NEP Without hesitation the Soviet government 
threw principles that had until then guided its financial policies 
overboard and declared that the mam task was the creation of a stable 
currency based on gold 

THE AGREEMENT OF MA\ 6, IQS! 

As the Soviet government consolidated itself politically within 
Russia, Lenm saw that the most urgent task was the economic recon 
struction of the country, which bad been ruined by almost seven 
years of foreign and civil war This could not be accomplished with 
the forces available in the country itself, foreign capital had to help 
And It was one of the characteristic features of the NEP that it 
made concessions not only to private enterprise at home but also to 
foreign capitalism, encouraging traders and manufacturers m the 
capitalist countries to participate in the economic reconstruction of 
Soviet Russia 

Even before the introduction of the NEP, however, the German 
foreign minister had been persuaded that an economic and political 
rapprochement with Soviet Russia would be to Germany’s advantage 
The chief protagonists of such a rapprochement in the Foreign Min 
istry were the head of its Russian desk. Baron Ago von Maltzan. and 
the de facto head of the Reich Central Office for Military and Civilian 
Prisoners, Moriu Schlesinger The latter had m the spring of 1920, 
conducted the prisoner exchange negotiations with the Soviet rep- 
resentative Viktor Kopp Early m 1921 he had partiapated in talks 
with the Red Cross and League of Nations representatives concerning 
further questions of prisoner of war exchange that had taken place m 
Riga, and from Riga he went on to Moscow, on orders from the for 
eign minister, in order to attempt to find a basis for the resumption 
of German Soviet diplomatic and economic relations Schlesinger 
went to Moscow against the express wishes of the head of the Eastern 
Division in the Foreign Ministry. Ministenaldirektor Behrendt, who 



66 The Incompatible Allter 

•was absolutely opposed to his conducting any negotiations transcend- 
ing the framework of prisoner of svar affairs * 

The mandate Dr Simons had given Schlesmger for his trip to 
Moscow ivas as broad as it svas indefinite ‘ See what you can do,” 
the foreign minister had said in effect Instructions such as these 
indicate how fluid and obscure the situation still was at that tune 
The conduct of intematjonal relauons in such a situation is par 
ticularly exciting and rewarding Here was an opportunity — rare 
in this age q£ mass commuoicauons that makes ambassadors into 
glorified messenger boys — for initiative, negotiating skill, imagma 
non, and all the other virtues of diplomatic statesmanship Wc had 
been placed in an exposed and responsible position and were now 
left to our own devices In a sense. I look back upon this period as 
the happiest and most Iruitlul one of m> life 

In retrospect, our negotiations of January and February, 1921. as 
sume even somewhat of a piquant flavor by the fact that simultane- 
ously Communist revolts shook Central Germany which we were 
convinced were actnely being supported by the Soviet commission 
in Berlin True enough, the piquancy is felt only in retrospect be 
cause the revolts of March, 1921, were suppressed At the time it took 
great self-control to negotiate with people setting fire, as it were, 
to the very roof over our heads We were all the while silently hoping 
lor the defeat of the revolt, whidi would make the Soviet government 
more amenable 

The talks held in Moscow by Schlcsinger, myself, and the Russians 
Kopp and Yakubovich resulted in the drafting, on February 19th, 
of a protocol containing a proposed agreement which, if accepted, 
would bring the two countries an important step closer toward full 
and normal political and economic relations Just at that time the 
So\iet slate was shaken by the severe crisis described above, and 
Berlin showed no interest in entering into the proposed agreement 
But the regime in the Kremlin weathered the storm, and, immedi 
ately after the collapse of the Kronstadt rebellion and the proclama 
tion of the NEP, interest for what Schlesmger and I had achieved 
in Moscow awakened in Berlin In the last days of March, Dr Siroons 
insiructed Behrendt urgently not to let the negotiations with the 

s Behrendt was considered an expert on the economic a<pecis of Germinr * 
foreign poliUcs in eastern Europe because he had in previous yean managed a 
prosperous gram business 



Resumption of Normal GermanSovtei Relations 67 

Russians be disrupted Another strong impetus toward a definite 
agreement with the Soviet government was furnished by the fact 
that negouations with tlic Russians were also going on in London at 
the same time Finally, on Afaj 6, 1921, the agreement was signed 

This ‘ Provisional Agreement concerning the ‘ extension of the 
sphere of activities of the mutual prisoner of war aid delegations” 
tn effect converted the agencies kopp and I had headed into political 
and consular missions by entrusting them with the protection of all 
their own nationals in the guest country, and by giving them a num 
her of consttlar functions Diplomatic privaleges and immunities 
were extended to tlie missions head plus seven members of their 
delegauons They were to be accredited to the Foreign Ministry of 
the guest country, and the commercial representatives to be at 
tached to the missions were given authority to deal directly with 
other governmental agencies 

A number of provisions of the agreement reflected the abnormal 
nature of the times and of the Soviet state Articled which permitted 
the German Mission to import strictly limited quantities of food 
stuffs for their own use was a eommeni not only on the ruin of Ru$ 
sias food economy but also on the unlimited opportunities this 
economy could have offered to black market operations Article 8 
guaranteed to German businessmen entering Soviet Russia that any 
property they brought vvith them or would acquire legally was in 
violate In Article 15 both governments promised that their rep- 
resentatives would refrain from any agitation or propaganda against 
the government or governmental institutions of the guest country 
Very important was a sentence in Article 1 by w hich the German gov 
ernment declared that it recognized no other agency as representing 
the Russian state in Germany this amounted to a solemn reaffirma 
tion of the de ^ure recognition which the Imperial German govern 
ment had already granted the Leninist state m the Treaty of Brest 
Litovsk 

Allied pressure on Germany in the reparations question reached 
another climax at the very same time that the Provisional Agree 
mem was signed The question whether or not Cermany should ac 
cept the so called London Ultimatum led to a cabinet crisis in early 
May the cabinet resigned rather than accept the ulumatum, and 
a new cabinet under the chancellorship of Dr ^Virth, leader of the 
Catholic Center party, was formed This was a cabinet of ‘ fulfill 



68 TJjc Incompalible Alhe% 

ment,” that is, of submission to the Allied demands, and in this pas 
sive sense its orientation was purely Western Hence it had no use for 
any ideas of a German Russian rapprochement, nor for their ex 
ponents The reign of the first Wirth cabinet and the term of office 
of Its foreign minister, Dr Fnedrich Rosen, therefore brought with it 
far reaching changes in personnel culminating in the removal of 
Baron von Maltzau from the Foreign Ministry He %vas made German 
minister to Athens Even before his removal attempts were made 
to eliminate me from the political scene in Moscow and relegate 
me to pnsoner-oE v, ar work and epidemic relief For a moment it 
seemed as if an entirely new faction had taken hold of German affairs 
in Moscow 

The timidity and restraint with uhich Dr Rosen approached 
the fulfillment of the agreement of May 6, 1921, was symbolized by 
the appointment of a completely unpolitical person, as German rep- 
resentative in Moscow Professor Kurt Wiedenfeld had been the 
chief of the Foreign Trade Division in the Foreign Mmisliy He 
had made a study trip to Russia in 19)2, had published a book about 
it, and had thus earned the reputation of being an expert on Rus 
sian economics He possessed fine and valuable human traits but 
he was little qualified to boost German Soviet relations Nor had he 
any intentions of doing so Wary of any political rapprochement be- 
tween the two countries he interpreted his duues as narrowly re 
stricted to economic relations thus m his own eyes he was not much 
more than a glorified consul, and wished to be no more Germany, 
he thought, was much too weak, conditions much too chaotic, and 
the revolution tog great a threat As he put it once, a country as 
weak as that internally could ill afford to see the red banner hoisted 
over an embassy in Berlin If he had any political ideas concerning 
the aim of German Soviet relations, they amounted to the belief that 
economic relations between Russia and the West might favor Rus- 
sia’s ‘internal evolution away from Communism A IVesterner by 
orientation, he was firmly opposed to any arrangements which Ger 
many alone might make with Russia, hence he welcomed the fact 
that the Provisional Agreement of May 1921, had been preceded 
by a similar agreement between Russia and England in March of 
the same year As a matter of fact there is some evidence that the 
German government remamed in close informal touch with Lon 
don while negotiating its agreement with Moscow 'Wiedenfeld, for 



Resumption of Normal German-Soviet Relations 69 

one, seems to ha\e beliesed that there was an understanding be 
tween London and Berlin to the effect that Germanj' in her rela 
uons with Russia would not go beyond any terms England had 
found uith the Soviet stale 

A man o[ my con\ iction could be of little use to Professor ^Vieden 
feld, and, as 3 have already said, in the end I was relieved of all po- 
litical and consular duties I had heretofore fulfilled This tempo- 
rary eclipse of mine had been preceded by incessant sharp sniping 
from a whole faction of political antagonists and rivals Personal 
ambitions, as well as honest political convictions, played their role 
m the struggle between two rival cliques and die weapons used were 
of the nastiest kind secret reports, unfounded accusations, insmua 
tions and innuendc^in short, a typical smear campaign, during 
which I was accused of crimes ranging from pro-Communism to per 
sonal corruption Many years later 1 happened to see a report sent 
to Berlin m which Schlesinger and I were accused of these and o±er 
things There vvere broad hints at common intrigues against Berlin 
by the Schlesinger H ilger clique jointly w tth equally corrupt indtvid 
uals from the Foreign Commissariat we were accused of using our 
offices for the purpose of lining our pockets or sausfying our m 
satiable political ambitions 

The report was written in September of 1921, seven or eight 
months earlier a similar assault to eliminate me had been made 
Although enough men in the Wilhelmstrasse vouched for my loyally 
and praised my ulents and achievements to frustrate the attempt for 
the ume being, some of the accusations made against me fell on 
fertile ground In the spring of 1921 I learned reliably that the chief 
of the courier division was warning couriers being dispatched to 
Moscow against me, they were admonished to be extremely wary 
when dealing with me, as my poliucal and general reliability was 
deemed highly questionable When I returned to Berlin in June 
and reported to the foreign minister. Dr Rosen received me with 
the words "Good morning, Hilger I understand you are a Com 
munist ” His lack of interest in, and understanding of the problems 
of German Soviet relations were in sharp contrast to the impression 
I had received shortly before from the Reich President, Friedrich 
Ebert, to whom I had reported immediately upon my arrival in 
Berlin The former saddle maker showed much natural dignity and 
impressed me by the precision and pertinence of his questions I 



70 The Incompatible Allies 

felt to my relief that this German Soaal Democrat much reviled by 
Communists and German Rightists alike had kept free from all per 
sonal and political resentment and was following the line he deemed 
correct with unshaken consistency The cordiality and kindness with 
which Ebert thanked me for the work I had done in Moscow was 
ample reward for the difficulties and deprivations of the Moscow 
winter and compensated me for the disappointment caused the next 
day by my interview with Rosen 

When I returned to Moscow in the fall of 1921 Germany and 
Soviet Russia were actively negotiating the exchange of official rep 
resentatives for which the agreement had made provisions Some 
of the difficulties encountered in these negotiations were character 
istic of the strange relationship between the two countries For one 
thing Professor Wiedenfeld had not been the first choice of the 
German Foreign Ministry Berlin had at first intended to send the 
Social Democrat August Muller but had acquiesced quite readily 
It seems when the Kremlin categorically refused to receive a Social 
Democrat It proved far more difficult to come to terms on Wieden 
feld s Russian counterpart 

The Soviet government had asked Berlin to give its consent to the 
appointment of Nikolai N Krestimky one of the oldest members 
of the Russian Communist party up to then commissar of finance 
secretary of the party s Central Committee and one of the five mem 
hers of the first Politburo Great was the surprise and astonishment 
of the Soviet government ivhen Kopp informed them that Berlin 
had refused to declare Krestinsky as persona grata for being too 
prominent a member of the Communist party Behrendt who had 
formulated the phrase could not have chosen a clumsier and less 
pertinent excuse for protesting against Krestinsky s appointment 

It would not have taken much more than this refusal to accept 
Krestinsky to let all previous efforts toward the normalization of 
German Soviet relations fail completely Karakhan told me officially 
that the Kremlin considered the reasons given for the refusal to ac 
cept Krestinsky as a grave insult The German government he said 
seemed not yet to have found out that the Communist party was the 
ruling party in Russia Krestinsky had been chosen to represent his 
gov ernment in Germany because he was a prominent member of the 
party and thus wielded suffiaem influence to enable him to further 
and develop German Soviet relations for the benefit of both coun 



Rtsumplton of Normal Gtrman Soviet Relations H 

tries Instead ol recognizing tltc good intentions of the party and the 
Soviet goiemment, the German authorities had adopted a point 
of view which the Soviet govemmem and Lenin personally re 
garded as a slap in the [ace While karallian made his declaration to 
me. kopp brusquely requested the Foreign Ministry to retain the 
German representative in Germany Wiedenleld was ]ust about to 
depart Irom Berlin tor Moscow, but kopp said the Soviet govern 
ment could do without his presence in Moscow until llie ktestins y 
aSair had found a satisfactory solution , , . 

There is no doubt that the motivation behind Berlin s refusal to 
accept Krestinsky as representative of the RSFSR in Berlin 
important question of principle for the Communist party an 
Soviet government On the other hand, the rude manner in w uc 
they had prevented Professor Wiedenfelds departure for Moscow 
had also damaged the prestige of Uic German government Just alter 
relations had so painfully been re established another break seemed 

*My'Svas to work tor a seulcmenl ot the conhict on a biu.s ac 

ceptable to bolh parties This was all ihe more difficult ^ ^ 

caSse I could not Lip accepl.ng the Soviet objections 

logical Hence I had no sound arguments at my isp 

rleign Commissariat announced Uiat it could do no “ore -n dm 

aSair after Lenm had personally taken a stand 

fore had .0 uy to appeal to *^ 0 , h.S 

mtermcdiary. and convince him dial the German 5° fnnjiula 

not intended to insult the Soviet slate and Ota. .he 

tion could be explained by the excessive eaprness o p^y 

Heal I. would not be die blundering civ. 

the price ol this lesson in the principles o e ^^ould be 

bu, .he Gemiau and Russian peoples, whose 

afiected unfavombly .1 normal relations were not restored That 

what I should have liked lu -V « occasion was 

The intermediary whose good ofn good or 

a man whose destiny it was Karl Radek be 

lor evol-in German ^ek -us m Jhe 

longed to Uiat group ol B^„„muon broke out. and to 

Eed,erw.ai Lenmv.hen *e R pa,, ago to 

whom the Imperial German g p^d been 

enable them to return to Russia amcc 



72 The Incompatible Allies 

a special confidant o£ Lenm, who appreciated his sharp mind and 
brilliant pen Born in the Austrian part of Galicia Radeh had ac 
lively participated in the German Soaal Democratic movement ever 
since 1908 Linguistically and culturally he was bound much closer 
to Germany than to Russia, the country of his choice His closeness 
and sympathy with the masses, hu captivating wit and quick repartee 
inevitably earned him the hearty and spontaneous applause of work 
ing class audiences even though he never learned to master the Rus 
sian language and spoke it tvith a noticeable Polish accent 

Radek was known throughout Moscow for the reckless criticism 
to which he subjected people and things he disliked and for the 
stinging jokes he made about them His biting quips would go from 
mouth to mouth, and after a while every anti Soviet joke that was 
being told in Moscow was, justly or not, attributed to Radek I be- 
lieve that that is one of the reasons why Stalin, who had no sense of 
humor in such things, developed an intense hatred of this insolent 
jester whom he had never liked for being Lenin s favorite and a £ol 
lower of Trotsky 

In 1927 Radek was excluded from the Communist party and 
banished to Siberia as a member of the Trotsky opposition From his 
exile he did rueful penitence and swore away his sms, and it was not 
long before he was back in Moscow By 19S0 he had been taken back 
as a party member When I saw him at that time he appeared to me 
to be a man who had lost every shred of belief in himself What sur 
prised me most, however, was the way in which he now talked about 
Stalin He did not in the least hide the deep impression which 
Stalin’s complete victory over all his antagonists had made on bun, 
and the doubts and msecunty it had given him But his inner 
change did not save him from his fate the last act of which was 
staged in January, 1937, when Radek was one of the defendants 
in the second of the famous purge trials But on that occasion he 
once more found his old self I, who followed Radek’s dialectics from 
among the audience, did not hate the slightest doubt that his exag 
gerated confessions of repentance were not means by which he wanted 
to save his skin, but were appeals to the comrades abroad, in whose 
eyes he wanted to show up the true nature of Stalin’s regime by his 
grotesque and absurd self accusations It was his last and unsuccess 
ful gesture of desperation After he was sentenced to a long prison 
term, nothing reliable was learned about his fate I heard rumors, 



Resumption of formal German-Soviet Relations 73 

^vhich I unable to confirm about unusual liberties he supposedly 
enjojed tshile serving his term nor is there any verification of the 
story that he died of pneumonia during the war 

Until his fill from high position m 1927 Radeh lived in the Great 
Kremlin Palace His three room apartment quite sumptuous in that 
time of the Moscow housing shortage v as alwa>s so diocK full of 
books and periodicals vshidi lay about on shelves tables and^airs 
that one could scarce!) move around I am sure my host had read 
most of them for he could quote Clauseu lU with the same assurance 
with which he discussed the newest books on international political 


and economic problems 

Mrs Radek was an intelligent and likable Polish girl from Lod/ 
whom 1 first met in 19^0 when she was Eiduck s assistant in Tsentre 
vak They had a daughter Soma whom Radek loved like the most 
precious thing on earth Sonia was in the hands of a good old Rus 
sian service woman who had all the sterling qualities prover la v as 
sociated with her type WTienevcr the conversation turned to the 
subiect Radek would never fail to praise the advantages of such a 
Russian manya and with an impish twinkle in his eye he would add 
the story of how his own child the daughter of 
convinced atheists had secretly been baptued m 
because the nyanya could not bear the thought o caring o g 
who could not partake m the blessings of the Christian Church I 
never could learn what later became of Soma and her mother Pre- 
sumably they v ere sent to a camp m Siberia to share the sad fate of 

countless victims of Stalin s dictatorship , , , r ,i,„ 

There war great eharm t. dealing w.th Radek of the 

brtlhance and or.smaluy w.d. wh.ch he f7''°P‘n"e 

and the revealing frankness with which he t on i imnortant 
most contloverstal and tickhsh poh<‘“' problems 
t 1 _ .w- ^.ol.T-uion that this revolutionary by pro- 

lL“n Z'co'nvmSd tnternat.on.lot had one 
many The Polish Jew Iron. Ansrrmn Cahcm 
Germany by the closest cultural bon 

ter than any other language Moscow Even though 

Moreover he was a most ^ meddling in Germany s do- 

his journalistic activity relations to a hard test we 

mestic affairs often put dealings with the Soviet 

could alw ay s count on him to help us 



74 The Incompatible Allies 

government in difBcult situations This time, too, Radek understood 
my embarrassing position and gave me his support 

For him, who was familiar with German mentality, Behrendts 
motivation was no ground for mdignation, but only cause for biting 
irony and a good laugh His intervention with Lenin resulted in the 
Soviet governments declaring the prevention of Wiedenfeld’s de 
parture to have been a misunderstanding which they noiv wished 
to withdraw whereupon the German government accepted Krestin 
sky as representative of the RSFSR with some similar explanation 
On September 19 1921, Wiedenfeld was received by the Soviet ‘ Pres 
ident Kalinm and gave the latter his credentials polite speeches 
•were made and thus Wiedenfeld s short term as German representa 
tive in Moscow had formally begun 
The first six or eight weeks of his presence in Russia coincided 
With the lowest ebb in German Soviet relations It was about this 
time that Maltzan was transferred and the political influence of 
Schlesmger and myself in Soviet German affairs was never lower 
The Kremlin s disappointment over the development can be judged 
by Radek 8 Pravda article of October 15, 1921, in which he made 
nostalgic references to previous signs of German Soviet friendship 
only to conclude that Germany had now completely sold out to the 
victorious Western Allies Three weeks later there was a decided 
swing m the other direction In accordance with the provisions of the 
Versailles Treaty the population of Upper Silesia on March 20, had 
voted m a plebiscite whether their htile but economically important 
land should belong to Poland or Germany The plebiscite resulted 
in 717 122 votes for Germany as against 483 154 for Poland But now 
the League Council decreed a piartition by which Poland was given 
the principal mining and industrial districts The bitterness of Ger 
man reaction against this violation of previously accepted rules re 
suited m a sharp turn from the policy of fulfillment The cabinet 
of Dr Wirth resigned In the new cabinet Wirth formed, he him 
self took over the Foreign Ministry dropping Rosen, and Maltzan, 
who had not yet departed for Athens, ivas promoted to head the East 
ern Department of the Wilhelmslrasse replacing Ministerial direktor 
Behrendt The German press correctly interpreted the changes as evi 
dence that the government was considering a new rapprochement 
with Soviet Russia Comments in the Soviet press naturally ex 
pressed great satisfaction over this new turn, although Radek, in 



RtsumpUon of Normal German Soviet Relations 75 

Praida. on November 11, 1921. emphas.^d that tl.c reversal of 
<,p,„.oo should not be exaggerated he rtrote that tt.tbout doubt it 
uas partly an attempt to frighten the Entente ‘"l” '"‘'7, 

cessions "Yet he too did not conceal hts pleasure Wiedenteld on the 

other hand, tsas greatly perturbed by the sudden burst of fto-So^et 
sentiment in the German press since he feared that Germany would 
commit herself to a one sided policy of friendship with Russia Mo 
cois he felt, should always he the party seeking Germany s fnend 
ship as soon as Berlin started courting her, Germany s positio 
would be ^veakened , _ 

The next months iscre a time ol indecision during sshich the Oer 
man go\ernment attempted to postpone or present any rea 
Sion concerning the orientation o( Germany s oretgn po icy 
the Soviet leaders urged the German policy makers to answer Fre 
and English intransigence and h>pocris> bv esta 
ship of L two major underprivileged nations In the '°"S 
threats were perhaps more elect, se Utan their “1° '"5 h”t,d 

27,1921 Radek, m another one of his Prouda articles bro y 

that Soviet Russia could, at any tune she wis e a P 
vtstons of Versailles under Article 116 of the treaty 
claim her share of reparations payments In pns Radek 

wtd, Wtedenfeld and other members of the German Mission Radek 
sought to soften the blow of his threat by “P ® govern 

would do Its utmost to avoid applying Arlic ^ rnntmued 

mem wa, baffled by Germany s vacillaung attitude he r“ 

and wished ,0 use die threat to force Gemiau, s hand Such efiom 
of bullying Germany into friendship with Russia the Soviet 

at die Jme They semed only tormeal die nervous w 
government lest they remain politically iso ate , ^ sjigjit 

nervousness was die sensilivily Soviet ^dem displayed to to dig ^ 
est indication that Germany mighl reaction was the 

pohq of appeasing the IVest *e cost of foreign minister 

appointment of Walthet Rathenau to *e displayed ex 

around the beginning of Februaiyr 192 ^ Germany 

treme excitement, asserting that the step ’ jj,en con 

had opted for the West in Soviet circ es c uncial consortium 
sidered the father of a plan for an j the Russians on 

for trade with Russia a plan stanchly opp 
• Cf also ZzifjJija Nov 9 1921 



76 The Incompatible Allies 

the grounds that it would have the aim of making Russia into a 
semicolonial object of exploitation for a united front of monopoly 
capitalists Some remarks Rathenau had made at the Cannes Con 
ference, characterizing Russia as an area open for Western coloniza 
non were repeated pointedly by the men in the Commissariat for 
Foreign ARairs 

Their attempt to make a deal tsith Germany led the Soviet leaders 
to make yet another threat proletarian revolution An anonymous 
article in Izveshya of February 5, 1922, hinted broadly that the 
Soviet government held the fate of the German bourgeoisie in its 
hand for Soviet Russia need only get together with the Entente at 
the expense of Germany, on the basis of the famous Article 116. and 
the resulting impoverishment of Germany would boost the proleiar 
lat in Its class warfare The German bourgeoisie, this article sai-d, 
were double dealers, and the Soviet government should not be senti 
mental about their fate Significantly, the editors of Izvestiya did not 
print the article without commenting, in a footnote, that they were 
not in agreement with it The bogy o£ an understanding between 
Soviet Russia and the Western Allies combined with the specter 
of the proletarian revolution, nevertheless continued to hang over 
Germany until a more permanent basis for German Soviet relations 
was created at the Genoa Conference 

RAPALLO 

The treaty which the German and Soviet delegations to the Genoa 
Conference signed, on April 16, 1922, at Rapallo came as a pro- 
found shock to the politicians of the West Unknown to the West, 
the two signatory powers had toyed svith the idea of such an agree 
ment for at least four months As early as December 12, 1921, Kres 
tinsky, m a talk with the German foreign minister, had brought the 
problem of shaping political relations between the two countries 
up for discussion At the same time men like Maltzan, Schlesinger, 
and the former foreign minister. Count BrockdorS Rantiau, then in 
retirement, were discussing what they described as the urgent need 
for a decisive improvement in German Soviet relations Not that 
they had any bold plans for a onesided political orientation toward 
the East on the contrary even these protagonists of the Russian 
orientation ’ warned against political experiments of that sort, which 



Resumption of Normal German-Soviet Relations 77 

they thought could only benefit Soviet Russia and harm Germany 
But they were insistent in Uieir warnings that Germany should not 
let herself be abused, in regard to Russia, by the Entente potvers 
Moreoter, they urgently adtocated economic collaboration witli So- 
viet Russia A country as desperate for economic reconstruction as 
she could not afford to remain economically isolated and would 
attach herself to the first partner who ssould offer a modicum of ad 
vantages In order to stay in power, they warned the Soviet regime 
would not shrink, in the end, from selling Germany down the river 
by accepting tlie provisions of Article IlG About a year had now 
gone by since the introduction of the NEP had created the politica 
and juridical basis for economic collaboration between Russia and 
the capitalist world, the men in Moscow would not wait much longer 
The history of the Rapallo Treaty has been treated exhaustively 
before, and I could add little or nothing to these accounts, particu 
larly since I was at the time still removed from the political scene, 
slowly recuperating from typhus fever Hence I have only m 
knowledge of the negotiations that went on in the early ^ ® 
1922 of Radeks frequent travels to Germany of Chichenns re 
peated suggestion that Germany and Russia decide oii a common 
anti Allied stand, and of the ueaiy drafted m Berlin by Maluan and 
the Soviet delegation en route to Genoa 

In Genoa a development foreseen by Lloyd George actually came 
about In March, 1919 the then Prime Minister had circulate 
memorandum for the Consideration of the Peace Con emnce m 
Versailles, warning that an unduly harsh treatment of Germany 
might dnve her into friendship vvith Bolshevik Russia ^ * 

the memorandum had little effect Clemenceau is to 
plied that it was but a plea for placating Germany at ren p 
No., March 1922 on the ere ot Ute Genoa Co"feren«, Llo)d 
George released the text of his memorandum to e 
presumably to dramatize the need for a more i 
Germany r And once more his effort was in vain tw- 

in Lenin's blunt phrase. Russia had gone to the 
first international conference at which a Soviet e ^ 
pa.ed-at a trader,’ ready to baiEa.n a certatn ol^e 

sources, market, labor, and investment opportuni 

'C. Lev,. Fnche, Tl.e Sw.co 
University Press 1930) I 178 323 



78 The Incompatible Allies 

of restoring her shattered economy to life In his first speech before 
the conference, Chiciieim made an obvious effort to stress the con 
tinuity linking the old with the neiv Russia, and by that token at 
tempted to de emphasize the crusading, ideological nature of the 
regime he represented Germany, on the other hand, had gone to 
Genoa hoping to bargain for more liberal reparations terms Thus 
both countries had gone with the resolve to make their peace with 
the Western Allies — for the time being and under certain minimum 
conditions 

The Russian efforts met open suspicion and hostility It seems, 
indeed, that the Western powers were not in principle opposed to 
a policy of large scale investments in Russia But the Soviet Republic 
had no desire to he a passive object of economic exploitation on 
terms and to an extent determined by the investors, though ready 
to make substantial concessions in order to make foreign aid worth 
the capitalists while, she was not prepared to relinquish an iota 
of her economic sovereignty For this reason, too, the Soviet delega 
tion refused to compromise on the delicate problem of repayment of 
tsarist debts As for the German delegation, it saw itself virtually 
Ignored its pleas unheeded, by the statesmen from the victor states 
Moreover, the constant fear of an agreement between the West and 
Russia lay heavily on theur minds, and when the danger appeared to 
turn into an acute threat the Germans at last — and reluctantly 
enough — signed the treaty that had in substance been drafted al 
ready m Berlin 

In it, the two countries at one stroke cleaned the slate covered 
with claims and counter claims accumulated m previous years Both 
countries renounced all compensation for damages caused by war, 
intervention, and occupation, and for civil damages caused by Soviet 
measures of nationalization (Article 1) Thus the Damoclean sword 
of Article 116 was forever removed from above the heads of the 
German government Article 2 gave Germany the right to bring up 
the question of Russian debts for re examination in case the Soviet 
government satisfied similar claims of other states This safety clause 
assured the Germans that they were not voluntarily incurring a de 
ctded duiad.vmtA^e., ot. tbit otbfix Ivwrf., vt wi'ivi. ta d'.v/iurag? 
severely any potential Soviet intentions to settle the debt question 
with other countries at Germany’s expense The treaty provided for 
the resumption of full diplomatic and consular relations (Article 3) 



Resumption of Normal German Soviet Relations 79 

In Article 4 both countries granted each other the treatment given 
the most favored nauon Finally, in Article 5, the German gotern 
ment promised to assist German pmate firms in the extension of 
their contracts with the Soviet go\emment Obviously this s\as not a 
Grand Alliance nor an aggressne treaty, it tvas not e\en a treaty of 
non aggression or e\en neutrality Its principal aim ssas the remosal 
of impediments to mutual understanding and goodwill created by 
the tsar and the resolution, thus making future friendly relations 
possible 

Nevertheless, its conclusion caused a fliirry of indignation and 
accusations For one thing, the scope and meaning of Rapallo were 
far exaggerated by its critics Etcn in Germany rumors that it con 
tamed secret clauses providing for a formal political or military al 
hance persisted for many years, and are still heard every once in a 
while, e'en though at least formally they are groundless Proving a 
negatne statement is, of course, logically impossible, it is equally 
difficult to counter vague but sweeping accusations that Rapallo 
ran counter to '‘international morality, that Germany bad violated 
the principle of mutual collaboration and consuhauon, that Rapallo 
meant a return to old fashioned “secret diplomacy,” or that the 
treaty had been concluded at an inopportune moment Few if any 
of these criticisms could sund close examination 'International 
moraluy” is a most elusive concept, and even if it v\ere better de 
fined u would be difficult to brand the settling of mutual debts as 
“immoral,” especially after the repeated efforts on the part of the 
Allies to free Russia of its debts to Germany unilaterally The prm 
ciple of mutual collaboration and consultation had, clearly, been 
Violated first by the Western diplomats who kept the German delega 
tion at the Genoa Conference in utter isolation, and the reproach of 
secrecy also boomeranged, for it is well established that Ralhenau 
made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with Lloyd 
George 

The choice of the proper moment for a political move can be the 
subject of interminable fruilless discussions The opinion that 
Rapallo was concluded three and a half years too late is expressed 
in Arthur Rosenberg s Geschichte der deutschen Repubhk <page 
ISO), he is correct m saying that a similar treaty made in December, 
1918, might have given the domestic and international history of 
Germany a completely different turn, but few people shared his im 



80 The Incompatible Allies 

plied view that such a turn would have been desirable The contrary 
opinion holding that Rapallo constituted an untimely disturbance 
o£ the Genoa Conference was much more widespread Count Brock 
dorff Rantzau at that time held that the Foreign ^^mlstry had shown 
unnecessary haste, assuming that the German delegation had al 
lowed themselves to be ruled by sudden panic, he believed that they 
might have obtained even greater advantages by stalling Even so, 
he acknowledged the great benefits Germany derived from the treaty 
not only by eliminating Russia as a claimant of reparations but also 
by securing most favored nation treatment for Germany in her 
relations with Soviet Russia More generally, Rapallo meant that 
Germany had begun her slow road away from her position as a mere 
object of international politics As such, it met with fairly broad ap- 
proval throughout Germany 

Russia in turn had opened a breach in the wall of economic and 
political isolation heretofore surrounding her and had sharply re 
minded the IVest of her existence as a European power At the same 
time Rapallo was an important precedent for a generous and favor 
able liquidation of the debts problem raised by the war and the 
revolution Thus it was a subsuniial victory for the regime, as such, 
the treaty met some hostile criucism from political opponents of the 
regime within Russia who were in the habit of \enting their dis 
satisfaction to members of the German representation Remnants 
of the traditional anti German attitude of moderate liberal circles 
in Russia may have had their share of influencing such opinion 
By this tune how ever, the people who paid attention to the remnants 
of the preresolutionary soaety in Russia were becoming scarcer even 
in the German Foreign Ministry 

Rapallo did not bring with it a definite swing of German foreign 
policy away from the West and toward a firm alliance with Soviet 
Russia On the contrary, Walther Rathenau, the foreign minister, 
continued to make overtures to the Western powers even after the 
Genoa Conference, the hostile comiuents which Rapallo had oc 
casioned in France increased his eagerness to show Germany’s will 
ingness to discuss the manner in which the provisions of Versailles 
might feasibly be fulfilled But in vain The French, at least, seemed 
not to be interested in talking to Germans about any easing of the 
reparations burden When, on the eve of another payment. May 51, 



Resumption of Normal German Somet Relations 81 

1922, Chancellor Wirih asked for a loan or a moratorium, he i\as 
turned dot\n To many it seemed then that France was actually 
hoping Germany would not fulfill her obligations, thus providing 
a pretext for the application of stiff sanctions Over this in turn, 
the relations between France and England cooled appreciably 
Iwesliya of September 2. 1922, went so far as to express confidence 
that England would soon be compelled to seek the friendship of 
Russia and Germany 

In Germany, meanwhile. Rathenaus and Wirths attempts to 
come to terms with France were bitterly assailed from both extremes 
of the political spectrum The right wing press hurled accusations of 
appeasement and treason against the government In its July /th is 
sue, \he Deutsche Allgemeine Zetlung, mouthpiece of Hugo Stmnes s 
industrial empire, demanded that Germany abrogate the Ver 
sallies Treaty and refuse all further reparations payment Two w eeks 
before Rathenau had been assassinated while ridmg in his open car 
along a broad suburban avenue near his home The murderers— 
henceforth to become heroes of German fascism— were members of a 
secret terrorist gang composed mainly of young officers and »n‘ellec 
luaU unable to adjust to Germany s defeat Small in number and 
actual political influence, they nevertheless had the tacit and not so 
tacit sympathy of broad sections of the populaiion the same sections 
that were to become the mainstay of National Socialism 
The Soviet leaders were not particularly sorry to see e 
the man who had been one of the chief protagonists o ^ 
orientation for Germany Now that he was gone . 

Stacie in the way of a broad elaboration of the Rapallo 
had been removed The satisfaction of the Communist vas 

not, however, undisturbed. Any upsui^e of ng t wing ^ 

could not but prcxiuce serious apprehension in 1 oscow 

ae German cLn.er revolunon*^ may have been a convemem Hy 
agarnst Enghah rmp.nahm. ,r ..as a|m 

dangerous ally the Soviet .rate MUldchno German Soviet 

therefore, not only a factor nh.ch m. h that 

relations it rvas at the same ^ j„olu„onaty simation 

Communist vigilance must be sharpened alert 

.as ripening i^ Germany, and ^ h-auTn 

That was Moscow s reaction to the death of Rathena 



82 The Incompatible Allies 

avert the reaction, Wiedenfeld, who was still in Moscow, tried his 
best to describe the assassination as the individual act of immature 
delinquents, to which no political significance should be ascribed 
Two months later an attack was made against the cabinet’s policy 
of fulfillment, this time from the Left, the consequences of which 
demonstrate the fluid character and nervous tension of international 
politics in 1922, which was always close to a breaking point On 
August 24th the German industrial and employees' unions sent an 
ultimatum to the Chancellor The ruin of Germany s economy had 
progressed so far, and the burdens lying on the back of the people 
had grown so heavy, that the policy of fulfillment must cease at 
once Coming from the trade union movement, which commanded 
the allegiance of millions of voters, the ultimatum could be less easily 
disregarded than the deed of fascist murder gangs, and Dr Wirth 
acted at once He asked the German charge d affaires, von Radowitz, 
to notify the Soviet government immediately of the ultimatum 
(Wiedenfeld had by that time returned to Germany ) Von Radowilz 
communicated the message to Karakhan on August 26th and elicited 
jubilation from the Russian over the sharp turn in German policy 
Karakhan immediately talked about a German Soviet united front 
against the Allies, and promised that the entire party and government 
press would at once be instructed to wage an intensive pro-German 
propaganda campaign 

Two days later von Radowiu received a wire from Dr Simons m 
which he was told that any publicauon of the demarche he had made 
was highly undesirable He said that Germany was adhering to the 
policy of fulfillment Apparently the government had been able to 
appease the unions after Dr Wirth s first panicky reaction to their 
ultimatum But his panic had caused his representative in Moscow, 
as well as the entire foreign policy of Germany, serious embarrass 
ment Von Radowitz made desperate attempts to reach Karakhan so 
that the propaganda campaign could be canceled, but the latter 
"could not be reached Perhaps he tliought that Dr Wirth’s mis 
take, it It i\ere allowed to become a fait accompli, could still be 
used to force his hand, perhapis his early enthusiasm had now given 
way to disappointment and disgust over German fickleness In any 
event, I can imagine that he derived great amusement from watch 
mg von RadowiU try to wiggle out of the fix into stfhich he had been 
put Von Radowitz, in turn, complained bitterly to Berlin over his 



Resumption of Normal German Soviet Relations 85 

contradictory orders He finally got hold of Karakhan, i\ho said 
he had been out of toi%n, and the Russian promised that the press 
would not mention the incident Nevertheless, tuo periodicals had. 
It seems, not been informed m time to cancel their comments, the 
August 51st numbers of Ekonomtcheskaya zhtzn’ and Rabochaya 
gazeta featured detailed accounts of the German demarche. 



IV PERSONALITIES AND 
PROBLEMS OF 
THE RAPALLO ERA 


1 COUNT BROCKDORFF RANTZAU 

For the post of ambassador jn Moscow recreated by the Rapallo 
Treaty, a personage of far greater political import than Professor 
Wiedenfeld was required The Kretnlm obviously had no problem 
of this kind, sirtce Krestinsky was of first rank prominence in the 
Communist party, his appointment to be the Soviet ambassador m 
Berlin — or representative plenipotentiary, as it was called in Soviet 
parlance, since prerevolutionary titles and hierarchies had been 
abolished — required little more than purely formal procedures and 
a change in his title On August 2, 1922, he handed Ebert his acden 
tials as Polpred (abbreviation of Polnomochnyt Predstavitel [Rep- 
resentative Plenipotentiary]), a post he wm to fill for eight years 
The new ambassadorship vacant in Moscow called for a man who 
should ideally, have combined several traits almost never found to- 
gether in one man For one thing, no one could have been chosen who 
did not have the confidence of the moderate parties then dominant 
m the Weimar Republic the Social Democrats, Democrats, and 
Centrists Thus, anyone too far to the left or right was out of con 
sideration as was any man who had shown himself unreconciled to 
the fall of the rnonarchy and to democratic reforms, in any event, 
Moscow ould probably have refused to accept an outright reaction 
ary But they would even more certainly refuse a Social Democrat, 
as the case of August Muller had shown in the previous year The 
field of contenders thus seemed limited to men belonging, at least 
in their political allegiance, to the solid respectable bourgeois center 
84 



85 


Personalities and Problems of the Rapallo Era 

That was certainly not a formidable limitation in the Germany of 
the twenties Yet it made it very difficult to fulfill a further desidera 
turn The new ambassador ought to be a man of long experience and 
proven ability in the diplomatic service — a career that had always 
been die preserve of able men from Uie high nobility. 

Two men were seriously considered for the appointment One 
was former Vice Admiral Paul von Hintze, who before the ivar had 
been the Kaiser's personal military representative in the tsar’s 
personal suite, who had served as foreign secretary for a few weeks 
in 191 8, and who row was an ardent advocate of close German-Soviet 
collaboration The other, who was finally given the post, was a for 
mer Imperial German diplomat UInch Count Brockdorfl Rantzau 
Born m the province of Schleswig on May 29, 1869, Rantzau — that 
IS how he signed his dispatches — was the descendant of an old and 
proud noble family that could boast of many most illustrious ances 
tors An aunt of his, a Countess BrockdorS, had bequeathed him 
her estate on the condiuon that he add her name to his own But 
that did not prevent the count from using every opportunity to 
make clear that he was a scion of the much older, hence much nobler, 
tribe of the Ranczaus One of hts ancestors had been a Marechal de 
France under Louis XIV, and gossip had it that he was not only 
the king’s general but also the queen $ lover With characteristic 
cynicism the count would often hint that the last members of the 
Bourbon dynasty had really been bastards of the Rantzaus 

Count XJlnch had studied law and then, after a few years of serv 
ice as an Army officer, entered the diplomatic service, he had been 
a secretary of legation m St Petersburg, a counselor of embassy in 
Vienna, a consul general at Budapest, and had finally headed the 
German ^fission in Copenhagen an important listening post and 
center of ticklish intrigues during the war Through his direct con 
nections with the Socialist and adventurer Parvus, Rantzau had been 
one link in the chain of hands that had helped Lenin and his as 
sociates to return to Russia in the spring of 1917, and in this minute 
detail, had helped to make the Russian Revolution This is not, 
Jjc’jKeye.’-, rrhsis izm the epithets ' Red Ceu.ns le 

malgre lut by which he was known He had acquired these during 
the war by his energetic advocacy of democratic and social reforms 
Rantzau was in no way preoccupied with 'social justice” and paid 
no allegiance to political ideals Lke liberty and equality The range 



80 The Incompatible Allies 

of values that mattered to his own inner personality might have 
seemed to be pnmanly aesthetic, not social Nothing gave him greater 
pleasure than the enjoyment of fine style, be it in a masterpiece of 
fine arts from his exquisite collection, a literary gem, or in personal 
conduct In the stress he laid on personal bearing and style of living, 
he was in every fiber an old aristocrat The length to which he went 
in his sensitivity to style was indeed in the nature of an obsession, to 
some people it suggested the adjective ‘degenerate ” Behind his sensi 
tivity for style was a hypertrophied sense of personal dignity express 
ing itself as great arrogance But Rantzau s arrogance was not simply 
the narrow ancestor pride of the aristocrat who has no thing but noble 
forebears to boast of, his was the nervous, finicky arrogance of the 
aesthete who has absorbed the highest standards of his culture and 
abhors those unable to reach the same heights 
The unconcealed rebuffs he dealt to vulgarity — ^be it in politics or 
in personal bearing — might have created the impression that his 
sensitivity was really the essence of Rantzau s character But he him 
self could be extremely vulgar among his confidants, and unspeak- 
ably rude to those he disliked It was not simply vulgarity that re- 
pelled him rather, his attitude to others was regulated chieffy by his 
own high estimate of himself and hts origins He did respect the 
personal dignity of persons beneath himself m his estimation But 
iheir dignity had to be coupled with the humility befitting their 
lowly status For that reason he could befriend Socialists and Jews, as 
long as they did not ‘ presume ’ beyond their status for instance, by 
becoming ambassadors or foreign ministers That kind of career and 
duty was in his mind, reserved for his own kind, hence he resented 
the spectacle of a successful businessman (Siresemann) or an eminent 
industrialist (Rathenau) daring to assume the ministerial office he 
had for a while occupied He considered them usurpers of his own 
aristocratic functions, and they became the objects of an acrid sarcasm 
in which he became painfully personal George Grosz has drawn a 
famous bitter cartoon of Rantzau, showing him as a degenerate Prus 
Sian aristocrat, which carries the captioa Hier riecht s nach Pobel ' 
(It smells of rabble here) This is, in a sense, a true portrait — and 
yet the epithet ‘ Red Count was no less fitting 

For the count advocated democrauc and social reforms in spite of 
his disdain of the masses Nor was his motive that of a self seeking 
opportunist who aims to ride the wave of the future He advocated 



Personahlies and Problems of the Rapallo Era 87 

democratic reforms from the fiirn conviction that Germany could no 
more be governed m the old ways without inviting the most serious 
internal difficulties Thus his vigorous espousal of social and demo- 
cratic reforms stemmed from the desire to aid Germany’s war effort 
by preventing internal convulsions Moreover, sensing the coming 
defeat long before the majority of generals and politicians v\ere 
ready to admit the possibility, Rantzau wanted to deprive the demo- 
cratic enemies of Germany of the argument that Germany was a 
bastion of reaction It was thus for reasons of political expediency, 
particularly for the sake of German foreign policy, that Rantzau 
proposed to institute his democratic reforms This statement is m no 
way affected by the arguments he used to show that such reforms were 
possible He argued that the loyalty shown by the German working 
class at the outbreak of the war had proved its political maturity and 
reliability far beyond the old cliches branding the proletarians as 
rabble without a country Rantzau at first attempted to persuade the 
kaiser and his regime to institute far reaching reforms from above, 
he had visions of Wilhelm 11 iransforming himself into a veritable 
“people’s emperor ' It was only when he met with persistent in 
transigence on the part of the emperor and his entourage that he 
abandoned the Hohenzollem dynasty as people whom die wheel of 
history would inevitably crush, and when Wilhelm II fled abroad 
after the war was lost, to spend hi$ remaining years at Doom mansion 
in Holland, Rantzau’s political conviction merged with a deep per 
sonal resentment of the Kaiser’s cowardice Henceforth he would 
refer to him bitterly as the ‘ deserter of Doom ' 

Rantzau's loyalty to the republic and his attitude to the Hohen 
zollems is symbolized by the following episode In December, 1918, 
shortly after the count had become the first foreign minister of the 
German Republic, the Council of People’s Deputies discussed the 
disposal of the property of the former Kaiser s family Rantzau sug 
gested that it should neither be expropriated nor be handed back 
to be disposed of freely Instead, the Kaiser’s private property should 
be used by the German state to pay him and his family a life long 
annuity that would enable thena to live according to their status 
I This did not by the way cause him in any way to interfere with the activities 
of his twin brother Ernst, who was devoted lo his big brother like a shadow and 
foUov\ed his every hint Ernst Count Rantzau had been a chamberlain at the 
Imperial German court and now represented the material interests and the 
claims (or compensation of ihe Hohenzollem Camily 



gS The Incompatible Allies 

Rantzau v.anted to prevent the house of Hohenzollern from using 
their tremendous fortunes to the detriment of the republic The 
Social Democrats, on the other hand, maintained that the Kaiser and 
his family had the same rights as any other German citizen and that 
therefore the stale could not deny them the free use o£ their private 
property 

During the war Rantzau had vigorously opposed unrestricted 
submarine tvarfare. and in political circles he was considered a ‘ de 
featist” This and his tnown views on domestic affairs made him one 
of the very few old style diplomats in whom Liberals and Socialists 
had confidence After the revolution of November, 1918, the Inde 
pendent Socialist Haase, who was one of the six People's Deputies, 
went personally to Copenhagen to offer Rantzau the post of foreign 
minister Thus the count became the first foreign minister of the 
German Republic 

Among the Social Democrats, Democrats, and representatives of 
the Center party in the first cabinet, he was conspicuous not only 
because of his aristocratic antecedents but also because he was the 
only cabinet member not affiliated with any party Indeed, he identi 
fied himself m general with the Democrats, the party of liberal 
constitutional democracy which might be classified as slightly left of 
center, but he never formally join^ them The reason was that he 
was impatient with parliamentary party politics and wanted to be 
independent of it As foreign minister he had no desire to share the 
adverse fate of any party during a cabinet crisis Not that Rantzau 
failed to understand the nature of constitutional democracy and the 
principle of the cabinets responsibility to parliament, as a matter 
of fact he understood these principles only too well. But he felt the 
rules of the constitutional game as an unwelcome fetter, at least in 
the field of foreign relations, which he thought should be above 
partisan strife — bipartisan, we call it today 

With, this disdam for constitutional iormablies of parliamentary 
government, the support Rantzau gave to the republic was, although 
by no means insincere, motivated only by political expediency, and 
not by a deeper faith in constitutional democracy The count com 
bmed a sharp sense of reality with fervent patriotism He knew that 
the majority of his oivn social set would call him a traitor to his 
class for entering the "revolutionary” cabinet But instead of deter- 
ring him, this attitude drew only his scorn and derision These 



Personaltttes and Problems of the Rapallo Era 89 

gentlemen were in his opinion doing the same thing they constantly 
attnbuted to the Socialists They put the presumed interests of their 
class o\er those of the nation, t^hereas he had, with patriotic effort, 
put aside all instincts and predilections in placing himself at the 
disposal of the Council of People's Deputies 

As foreign minister, Rantzau headed the German delegation sum 
moned to the Versailles Peace Conference, aftenvard he argued in 
cessantly for rejecting the treaty document that had been handed to 
him, for he considered its provisions impossible of fulfillment After 
bitter debates within the Constitutional Assembly and the cabinet 
at Weimar, he as overruled and resigned The scar left on him by 
the persona] and national humiliation of Versailles never healed 
The treaty created or confirmed m Rantiau an implacable resent 
ment against the French, which showed not only m h« subsequent 
policies but also m a spiteful personal hostility toward French poll 
ucians and officials He could neither forget nor forgiv e the treatment 
the German delegation had received at Versailles, and the barbed 
wire behind which they had been caged between negotiations In 
spite of this, I cannot say that be tdentifled himself with the traditional 
attitude of those Germans who considered France the ' hereditary 
enemy," for he had absorbed too much of the fruits of French culture 
Whereas he knew no English, he had a fluent mastery of French and 
loved to speak it But, poliucally, he satv red when France or Ver 
sallies was mentioned 

With all his compromises to democratic realities, with all his ability 
to transcend the narrow arrogance of his fellow noblemen, Count 
Brockdorff Rantzau was a much more genuine symbol of his class 
than the diehard reactionanes of Prussian Junkerdom who spent 
themselves in futile attempts to reverse the trend toward greater 
influence of the common man on political aSairs, only to pave the 
way for the rabble of Hi tiers storm troops Rantzau had no illusions 
of turning back the wheel of history His concepuon of the ell bom 
leader’s function was a positive one of leading a German people’s 
state toward better days Beneath these considerations a deep pessi 
mism and despair were hiding he seems to have been dimly aware 
that his idea of leadership in democracy was the last conceivable 
task, left for the aristocracy before it would disappear altogether 
Moreover, he must have had senuconscious doubts concerning Ger- 
many’s ability to make a comeback. One often feels that what really 



90 The Incompatible Alim 

mattered to him was to see to it that Germany and the classes that 
bad ruled her m the past would go down to their doom m style 
Identifying himself with his country and his classj he felt himself 
to be a living corpse, a hero mortally wounded whose only concern 
was to die with dignity 'Do not mourn, 'he said to his twin brother a 
few hours before his death ‘ After all, I have really been dead ever 
since Versailles ' (Ich bin ja schon in Versailles gestorben) 

This is the man who was entrusted with the delicate task of imple 
mentmg the Rapallo relationship as German ambassador m Moscow 
The task attracted him mightily not only for its political significance 
but also because it called for a master diplomatist enamored of his 
work, for it he spent himself during the last years of his life, the 
outstanding living symbol of the Rapallo era 

Rantzau s appointment as ambassador was not officially announced 
until more than five months after the signing of the Treaty of 
Rapallo— months filled with hesitations and bickering over the ap 
pomtment in high cabinet circles Ebert, the Reich President, sup 
ported Rantzau s candidacy, and urged him to accept the appoint 
ment The latter agreed m principle In a series of memoranda sub 
muted to Ebert, and in further conversations with him, he argued 
that Germany was compelled to seek a rapprochement with Russia 
even though the Soviet regime was in his words, a "gang of crmmab", 
and he agreed to try his hand at the difficult task, even though he 
was going to go to Moscow without any illusions and with a good 
dose of almost morbid skepticism Once this agreement was obtained, 
Ebert arranged meetings with Rantzau and the Chancellor. Dr 
Wirth but the blueblooded Prussian diplomat and the schoolteacher 
politician from the South did not hit it off very well at first and 
established a modus vivendt only gradually Unexpected stiff resist 
ance against Rantzau’s apporntroent suddenly came from the War 
Ministry m Bendlerstrasse General Hans von Seeckt, the head of 
the Army staff, sternly rejected him as candidate for the post 

The personal enmity between son Seeckt and Brockdorff Rantzau 
dated back to the days of the Pans Peace Conference At that time 
von Seeckt had been the chief military expert in the German delega 
tion, and he had seriously clashed with Rantzau, who as foreign 
minister was the head of the delegation The memoranda the two 
men exchanged on May 26 and 27, 1919, now in von Seeckt’s per- 
sonal papers in the United States National Archives, show that they 



Personalities and Problems of the Rapallo Era 91 

disagreed oser the attitude to be taken tosvard the proposed disartna 
mem provisions of the draft ireatj Rantzau traditionally opposed 
to the blunt militarists and power politicians that had wielded a 
decisive influence m prewar Germany proposed to recognize the 
military disaster Germany bad suffered in the recent war and was 
ready to direct the entire national effort toward non military tasks 
of reconstruction Hence he %vas prepared to offer only token re 
sistance to the far reaching disarmament provisions of Versailles 
The general on the other hand regarded military power as the surest 
warranty of Germany s recovery and he demanded a tooth and nail 
fight for every bit of a concession in the disarmament provisions It 
IS doubtful whether he would hate succeeded in obtaining milder 
conditions in any event he was overruled to his great resentment 
He believed that he had not been gnen ihe hearing due his position 
and henceforth bore a deep grudge against the count making him 
his scapegoat for the harsh peace treaty 
In turn Rantzau focused on the general the wary suspicion he felt 
against highhanded military adventurism It must be surmised that 
he suspected the existence of a secret deal between von Seeckts 
Reichswehrand the Red Army rumors that the Rapallo Treaty con 
tamed secret military clauses were widely discussed in Germany 
and even i£ Rantzau gate them no credence he did believe that the 
treaty served to encourage such damaging rumors In July 1922 he 
wrote a lengthy pro memona to the President and the Chancellor in 
which he warned even against the semblance of military agreements 
With the Soviet government since such agreements would seriously 
jeopardize all remaining hopes of a rapprochement -vviih the West and 
would draw England and France together in a united front against 
Germany England s natural fear of France he thought could lead 
to German rearmament much more rapidly and safely than a deal 
With the Soviet regime Only the latter oauld benefit from military 
agreements for they would deliver Germany straight into Soviet 
hands In the first place Russia could at any time reveal the existence 
of the secret relationship and thereby discredit Germany secondly 
she rcojJd draw Gerxoaay rato a Jicpeless war in the \Vest by having" 
the Red Army invade Poland And if Russian troops then pushed 
farther into Germany they would do so not to liberate her from the 
Entente but to push Asias frontier as far as the Rhine The 
memorandum closes with the admonition to wait for further develop- 



92 The Incompatible Allies 

ments in Russia and, meanwhile, seek England’s friendship. In a way 
it IS not a typical representation of his views toward German Soviet 
policy, for It expressed only all the reservations he harbored against 
Rapallo Even earlier he had readily admitted that the treaty had 
been a brilliant stroke, and alter his appointment he did not spare 
himself m working to cement the Rapallo relationship 

The pro memoria was given to von Seeckt on September 9, 1922 
Two days later Seeckt handed the Chancellor his reply, written m a 
militant, aggressive tone * The genera! began by stating point blank 
that Germany must conduct an active foreign policy entailing an aim 
and a firm will, and struck a quick blow at Rantzau by saying that 
"persons seeing only dangers must be kept away from the 
scene" o! political action, as unfit to make policy Germany needed 
a Talleyrand or a Trouky, he suggested 

Countering Ranizau's demand that Rapallo must be robbed of 
us political implications by a narrow econoniic application, von 
Seeckt stressed the treaty's political significance The combination 
with Russia, he said, had been the first and virtually only gain m 
power and prestige Germany had made since Versailles "There 
are,” he continued, "politiciaos afraid of a gam in an active German 
policy when they see the danger o! new and stronger counter 
measures from the Western enemies That poses for them the ques 
tion of Western versus Eastern orientation, a question they would 
like to evade But m actual fact this question has not come up at 
all” The general then went on to show why in his opinion an 
alliance with Soviet Russia would be the only means of strengthen- 
ing Germany A policy of fulfilling the provisions of Versailles was 
hopeless, for France, he asserted, was bent on destroying Germany 
and could not be appeased England, he held, was drifting toward a 
conflict with France, and no matter whether Germany was allied 
with Soviet Russia or not, she svas England's natural continental ally 
As a matter of fact, the stronger England found Germany, the more 
she would be attracted to her Poland was. for von Seeckt, the crux 
of all problems in the East, Her further existence could not be 
justified, he thought, taking the inevitability and desirability of a 
fourth division of Poland for granted. 

*The handwritten draft, together with Rantzaus memorandum, is among ihe 
general s papers in the National Archives Both memoranda have been published 
by Julius Epstein in ihe November, 1W8, nifuibcr of D<r ilforwl 



Personalities and Problems of the Rapallo Era 93 

Once more making a j ab at the <»unt. % on Seeckt said that anyone 
reg;aTdmg Rapallo as a mistake was unBt for the post of ambassador 
in Moscow By strengthening Russia, her potential future ally, Ger 
many would strengthen herself, he wrote, and indicated that the 
process of strengthening should include military collaboration Ger 
many, he concluded, should not indulge in unrealistic dreams of 
staying out of possible future conflicts Such dreams, he held, were 
suicidal hence to talk about peace was tantamount to treason Pre- 
paredness should be the slogan 

So much for tlie memoranda of tlie two antagonists Even after 
Rantzau's appointment had been officially announced von Seeckt 
made one final effort, in October, to get nd of him by openly casting 
aspersions on the count s patriotism and loyalty But it was too late, 
and the attack had been oserly rude The general is as in the end 
compelled to make a grudging and truculent withdrawal The ongi 
nal draft of the retraction, in ton Seeckt s personal archives still 
contained a number of nesv insults svhjch were, however stricken 
out on second thought 

As a matter of fact, the entire campaign of the general against 
Rantzau s candidacy had been too late to prevent the appointment 
negotiations hetw een the count and the cabinet had already virtually 
commuted the latter to their choice They had been most extraordi 
nary negotiations Rancrau was so convinced of his prominence and 
suitability that he made some startling conditions before he would 
even consider accepting the post In brief he demanded that, if he 
were to take the post he would be subject to no foreign minister, 
but subordinate himself only to the Reich Chancellor Being a former 
foreign minister himself he refused to pay obedience to anyone in 
the Foreign Ministry In particular he expressly refused to v\ork 
under the direction of Walther Rathenau whom he considered 
brilliant but without pohucal sense On June 24 1922, Rathenau 
was assassinated and his portfolio was taken over by the Chancellor 
himself This made it easier lor Rantzau to accept the ambassador 
ship since he considered Dr Wirth comparauvely innocuous because 
of his lack of experience in foreign affairs 

In addition, Rantzau demanded the special privilege of making 
reports to the Reich President directly, even over the bead of the 
Chancellor The amazing part of the story is not that the arrogant 
count requested this privilege of extra channel communications but 



94 The Incompatible Allies 

that Ebert atid ^Virth gave m to his demands, even though they were 
constitutionally untenable 

Just as extraordinary as these conditions was a visit Rantzau paid 
on June 23, 1922, to Soviet Foreign Commissar Chichenn during 
one of the latter’s frequent stays in Berlin He introduced himself as 
the man being most actis ely considered for the post m Moscotv, and 
tlien proceeded to lay his cards on the cable with a disarming blunc 
ness not customarily associated with the ways of diplomacy, outlining 
some of the problems he visualired and touching the most delicate 
issues of Soviet German relations Chichenn appears to have been 
delighted, the two men immediately hit it off marvelously and in this 
interview laid the foundations for a deep personal friendship ended 
only by Rantzau’s death They were drawn together not only by 
sharing many political hkes and dislikes — the ideological gulf be- 
tween them notwnJvstatvding— but also by the similarity of their 
aristocratic past, by similar working habits (both used to do their 
work late at night, going to bed only at dawn), and even by suffering 
fioro ideimcal ailments They had simihr ptedilecuons for the prod 
ucts of high culture— works of fine an. brilliant literary style, and 
choice wines In their extensive private correspondence each tried 
to surpass the other in wit, style, and brilliance, and at public oc 
casions they did not hesitate to pay each other the wannest tributes 
of personal friendship 

The closeness, not to say intimacy, of these two remarkable men 
often helped Rantzau to overcome the feeling of acute despair 
caused him by the intransigence of the Soviet government and the 
recklessness of their methods which frequently brought him to the 
verge of giving up his post m Moscow Moreover, even though he 
knew that a member of the Soviet government could not afford to 
show real sincerity and good will m his relations with a bourgeois 
diplomat, his hypertrophied sense of his own importance tricked him 
into abandoning that suspicion m the case of Chichenn, Kalinm 
and a few other high placed representatives of the Soviet state He 
could not, it seems, doubt the sincerity of a government to vvhich no 
less a person than he. Count Rantzau. had been accredited However 
much he held the Communists in contempt, he resisted tlie tempta 
lion of subjecting, say, Kalimn, to the derision he instinctively fell 
tor the men in the Kremlin Similarly, the high esteem in which, he 
held himself made ii impossible for him to believe that Chichenn 



PeTsonahttes and Problems of the Rapallo Era 95 

might be insincere or ill willed A misanthrope at heart i\ho en 
cased himself in a carefully created glory of fear and admiration 
a man with an almost psychotic distrust of his environment who 
saw enemies lurking around every comer Count Rantrau never lost 
his respect and his feeling of warm friendship for Chicherm His 
last thoughts dictated on his deathbed express this belief in him 
self his mission and his friendship %«th the Soviet foreign com 
missar This is the letter he dictated 

My hear People s Commissar 

My twin brother Ambassador Count BroclcdorSRantzau had me called 
to his bedside this afternoon and requested me to convey the following to 
you People s Commissar and Mr Latvinov That after the verdict of his 
physician he aware that he had to reckon with his sudden death any 
hour That he was m his hour of death requesting me to tell both gentle- 
men that he had regarded it as hts lifes task to carry the polioes pursued 
by him in the last years to the desired atm 

He further asked me to tell you that he thanks both Commissars espe 
cially you for the faith in colla^ration that he has always found with you 
m the djHleult year* His last and Ann hope he said was that the Cennan 
and Russian people may m common votk attain the end they desire 
Berim September 8 1928 

Ernst Count Rantzau 

Frorn the point of view of anyone working in the German Em 
bassy the years from 1922 to 1928 might well be called the Rantzau 
era for the count dominated our political relations with Moscow 
and gave them their particular flavor For him the Rapallo relation 
ship had a decidedly romantic appeal he saw in it the symbol of a 
cunous but firm friendship between two nations whom the cruel 
course of history had converted into outlaws forcing them together 
through thick and thin breathing defiance against the satiated 
victorious bourgeois world His great disappointment was that net 
ther his superiors in Berlin nor his Soviet counterparts m Moscow 
had as romantic a conception of this German Soviet community of 
fate {Schicksalsgememschaft) as he None the less the spirit with 
which he went abouthis task of cementing that friendship sufficiently 
touched the sympatfietic heartstrings of Russia s policy makers to 
make him their darling and their showpiece among all bourgeois 
diplomats in Afoscow They were enchanted to have captivated the 



96 The Incompatible Allies 

good will o£ such a colorful and important personality In his obitu 
ary for Rantzau published in Ptavda on September 11, 1928, the 
Soviet journalist Kol tsov wrote that ' the ambitious aristocratically 
haughty Count turned out to be the most loyal best mtentioned, 
roost accessible, and hence the most agreeable bourgeois ambassador 
in Red Moscow The Soviet officials who would see the * Old Count 
m the. at\techa.mheT o£ the Foreign. Commiisariat, lie wrote, ‘ would 
strangely feel no effect of violent class hatred, as would hate been 
proper at the sight of persons of noble blood " For ‘ this Count had 
grasped and never forgot that the Soviet Union, through whatever 
eyes you may look at it, is a mighty power with which one must try to 
live in friendship and concord Seek no quarrels, but maintain 
friendship Stand behind this strong boy in case they gang up 
on him . This was the most important thing for the Old Count ” 
Certainly a onesided account of the man who often described the 
Moscow regime as a gang of thugs and blackmailers! 

The judgment oE Ranuaus associates about him was highly 
contradictory He had a large number of admirers, some of whom 
were warmly attached to him as a human being But many people 
feared him or could not abide his overweaning pride and his mordant 
irony Very few had sympathy with the pleasure Rantzau found in 
embarrassing people with his biting wit For instance, he loved to 
ask young subordinates reporting to him for the first time whether 
they knew the meaning of ‘subordination After they had replied 
by some obvious commonplace, he would disconcert them with his 
own definition according to which subordination is ‘ the feeling of 
shame that ought to creep into a subordinate when, facing a su 
perior he must appear more stupid than his superior is in fact ’ 

Rantzau s morbid suspicion made the circle of collaborators who 
were really close to him quite limited Moreover, he lived the life 
of a recluse, during the entire period of his six year stay in Moscow 
he did not once enter the office of the embassy Forever accompanied 
and shadowed by his devoted aid, he would see his counselors and 
secretaries in his residence, and for routine work a small staff of 
office employees would be available day and night If he trusted a 
particular subordinate, he would bea ktnd chief and take an active 
interest in his advancement and well being But a chance incident or 
even a completely imaginary faux pas would suffice to turn him 
against the man with the stubborn finality of one suffering from a 



Personahttes and Problems of the Rapallo Era 97 

persecution complex, so that neither efficiency nor ability availed 
the hapless outcast 

In Jul}, 1922, Rantzau’s counselor of embassy, t on Radoavitz, ar 
rued in Moscotv and took oser the affairs of the embassy from 
Whedenfeld, t\hile the nets ambassador still lingered in Germany to 
mend his political fences It was not until November 2nd that the 
count finally arrived in the Soviet capita! The reception he got at 
the station was not partiailarly impressive as a matter of fact 1 
might call It shabby “Like a high<lass bootlegger, ’ Ranttau cbarac 
terized it Obviously, his sense ol personal and national dignity was 
sorely offended, and when he went to sec Chicherin late that night he 
made no bones about his feelings As a consequence, his reception in 
the Kremlin three days later, when he presented his papers of ac 
crediiation to Kahnm, was surrounded with all the pomp the Rus 
sians could muster and when a detacliment of Red Army troops 
passed in review before the dignitaries within the Kremlin walls the 
band sounded off with Ranirau s favorite march the 'Hohenfned 
beiger,” which was allegedly composed by Frederick the Great him 
self 

At the railroad station Rantzau had had a few friendly words for 
tne The next day 1 had an interview with him which decided our 
subsequent relationship It showed that our thinking m political and 
personal matters agreed to a sufficient extent that Rantaau soon 
afterward asked me to join the staff of his embassy The decision was 
difficult for me because f was just then flirting with a return to 
business and had just received an attractive offer from the biggest 
German steamship company to manage their business m Russia 
But the prospect opened by a position under Rantzau was too 
attractive 1 agreed to work with him and soon received a letter from 
him ending with the following words I feel the urge of expressing 
my satisfaction that Your Excellency (Euer Hochwohlgeboreh) has, 
upon my request, deaded to devote your energies, which for years 
have been eminently proven in the cultivation of German Russian 
relations, to the service of the German Reich and to assist me in 
siiebigh tssk 1 hsve puz -myself as -ambassador of the German Rejr.b 
in Russia ’ The many tokens of friendship that Rantzau bestowed 
on me in the course of the next six years, and particularly the fact 
that he remembered me even on his deathbed, proved to me that I 
had not disappointed him 



98 


The Incompatible Allies 


2 THE FOREIGN COMMISSARIAT 

In his treatise on the process of revolution, George S Pettee mam 
tains that a revolutionary regime and its counterrevolutionary 
neighbors are apt to conduct foreign relations very poorly owing to 
miiiua] ineptitude The revolutionary, he maintains, is too much 
preoccupied with problems of domestic reforms or domestic changes 
to know much about foreign politics and its problems, whereas the 
conservative statesmen of the other states have never troubled to 
famiharue themselves with problems of a revolution, if only because 
their profession is so competitive that they have enough to do con 
centratmg on problems of normal politics As a result, he claims, 
foreign politics m both camps is handled by 'rank amateurs" and 
* second rate adventurers ” » 

As convincing as this argument may sound in the abstract, it is 
belied by the stature oi Count tkanirau, as well as some c4 the 
foreign ministers of the German Republic who conducted German 
Soviet relations Not were any o£ the people’s commissars for foreign 
aSaits of the Soviet state rank amateurs" or second rate adventur 
ers That applies certainly to the last three foreign comfQiSsats (or 
ministers), Litvinov, Molotov, and Vyshinsky, and with even greater 
emphasis to their two predecessors Both Trotsky and Chichenn, 
who succeeded him m the spring of I9J8. were dttiong the best brains 
and most interesting personalities in the first period of the Russian 
Revolution I have watched Andrei Yanuanevich Vyshinsky do his 
smooth and sinister work as presiding judge during the Shakhty trial 
and as public prosecutor in the more famous purge trials of the 
raid thirties My personal acquaintance with Trotsky has been con 
fined to two meetings, one of which I have told m Chapter II But 
for a great many years I had protracted official dealings with the 
other three Soviet foreign commissars. Chicherm, Litvmov, and 
Molotov Of these, the first was on all counts the most colorful per 
sonality 

Bom in 1872, hence two years younger than Lenin, Georgi Vasdye 
vich Chichenn was of Italian origin His ancestors, originally named 
Cicerom or Cicenni. emigrated to Russia centuries ago and, with 
the passing of time, married into the old established noble families 

» The Process of Rnolutioft (New YoA Harper fc BrOthcn 1938) pp J39-H1 



Perjona/ific5 and Problemt of the Rapalto Era 99 

Thus. ChichcTin’s mother uas bom a Baroness Meyendorff. whereas 
his grandmother came from the house of Naryshkin, that old Boyar 
family which had produced the wife of Tsar Alexei, the second of 
the Romanov dynasty Chicherin‘s father, Vasily, was an official m 
the Imperial Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs but played no role 
in the public life of tsarist Russia His uncle, Boris, however, held 
a chair of Public Law at Moscow University and was a well known 
and well respected personality, richly blessed with earthly goods 
Representing moderately liberal views, he fought for liberal reforms 
butopposedSoaalism in his writings He has made valuable coniribu 
tions to Russian historiography During the eighties of the last 
century, his estate, Karaul, situated in Kaluga Province, was one 
of the centers of Russian intellectual life and famous for its mag 
nificent Russian hospitality Although young Georgi spent a good 
deal of his earliest youth m this environment he later fell under the 
influence of radical circles and never severed his connections with 
them True, in order to please his father, he entered into the Foreign 
Ministry after finishing his university studies and served for a while 
in its archives but in 1904 he was forced to flee to Germany m order 
to escape arrest by the tsarist secret police who had become interested 
in his revolutionary connections Abroad he joined the Socialist 
movement Breaking all relations with his family, he simultaneously 
renounced all of his very considerable inheritance claims, which 
would have given him possession, among other things, of his uncle s 
beautiful estate 

Lenin had recognized at an early tune the benefits which Bolshevik 
foreign policy could gam by making use of this young idealist who 
could offer wide knowledge of history and world affairs, an in 
exhaustible memory, and a safe mastery of several European Ian 
guages And so when Trotsky turned his hack on foreign policy after 
the Treaty of Brest Litovsk, Chichenn was made Narkomindel 
(Foreign Commissar) of the RSFSR, after he had entered the Bol 
shevik party 

The abilities that raised him far above the average of his environ 
ment were matched by some pecuhanues of character which made 
life difficult for himself as well as tor his subordinates Among them 
was, particularly, a strange inability to differentiate between im 
portant and unimportant things Little details of daily life very 
often played the same role for him as the vast problems of Soviet 



100 The Incompatible Allies 

foreign policy which he faced A discerning collaborator of his, in 
a confidential conversation with me, once compared his brain with 
a photographic plate which indiscriminately takes all images offering 
themselves after or beside another Consequently, Chicherm wore out 
his nerves on petty details and wasted his time by addressing enve 
lopes or running about delivering handwritten notes Deep in the 
early hours, when he used to do most of his work, you could have 
seen the people’s commissar flitung back and forth across the corn 
dors and stamvays of the Foreign Commissariat, acting as his own 
messenger boy 

Chicherm showed genuine personal concern for those around him, 
and without the slightest hesitation he shared all the material needs 
and deprivations of those difficult limes with his subordinates This 
caused him to be very well liked among those who worked under 
him At the same time he was at times so thoughtless and remoted 
from realities that he could actually go so far as to phone a man at 
three o dock m the morning and order him back to his office merely 
to ask him a quesiign The man may have wudged home several miles 
through the nastiest ^^osco^v weather after a hard day’s work until 
midnight and yec i( often happened that Chicherm had forgotten 
his question by the time the official, utterly exhausted, stood before 
hnn 

He was a very sick man, and his several ailments often kept him 
from his work for long periods, during which Maxim Litvinov, his 
first deputy, would act as foreign commissar 111 health and the long 
years of exile and semistarvation had aged him far beyond his years 
Altogether, he impressed the observer as a queer old man who was 
utterly helpless toward his immediate surroundings Yet this little 
man was able to represent the interests of his country at international 
conferences with so much personal dignity, with such remarkable 
resourcefulness, brilliant repartee, and inner conviction, that even 
his opponents could not fail to give him their respect Knowing 
these raerm of his, valuing his acute political mind and the devas 
tating dialectics of his diplomauc notes. Lemn indulgently over 
looked his human frailties Stalin may have had little understanding 
of Chicherm s intellectual world but he appears to have valued his 
service In any event, few if any commissars m the Soviet cabinet 
have served as long as he without interruption It was only after tlie 
beginning of the first Five Year Plan, when the Stalin regime, pre 



Personalities and Problems of the Rapallo Era 101 

occupied %Mlh domestic problems virtually abandoned foreign pol 
icy screening its isolationism behind loudly proclaimed expectations 
of ivorld revolution and intensified Comintern activities that Cbi 
chenn ceased to be useful to the regime the old man himself prob 
ably witnessed Stalins resolution from above with despair and 
bewilderment In the summer of 1929 while he was nursing his 
health in Wiesbaden he was suddenly alarmed by rumors about 
machinations against him in Moscow In open panic he determined 
not to return and since he did not apparently mind talking about 
his decision it became somewhat of an open secret The Kremlin 
physician Dr Levin was dispatched to Germany to dissuade the 
foreign commissar from deserting his post and v^hen the doctor 
remained unsuccessful Karakhan himself undertook to bring him 
back Shortly afterward in the fall of 1929 Chicherin tendered his 
resignation and in early lOSOheyielded his post to Litvinov Since he 
was also not re-elected to the Central Committee of the Communist 
party he was thus completely eliminated from the public affairs of 
the Soviet Union He spent the last two years of his hfe in a modest 
Moscow fiat a sick and disillusioned man seeking solace in Rhine 
wine and Beethoven 

The formal organiiational structure of the Soviet governmental 
apparatus in the first years was founded on the principle of col 
lective responsibility This meant that noi a single individual was 
responsible for the activities of a ministry but a kollegta (board) the 
members of which were appointed by the Central Executive Com 
mutee (TslK) the supreme organ in the Soviet p)ramid Thus the 
NKID (Peoples Commissariat for Foreign Affairs) was under the 
direcUon of the peoples commissar Chicherin his two assistants 
and two or three additional persons who were members of equal 
standing in tlie kollegia In this board the people s commissar counted 
as no more than die primus tnier pares who had to comply with the 
decisions of the majority Informally his position in the party and 
the support he rt’ceived from Lenin decided the extent to which 
the people s commissar could maintain his own views in the decision 
making process of the kollegia 

Chicherin s position was made difficult by several circumstances 
In the first place he did not belong to the influential group of 
Old Bolsheviks who formed the ruhng nucleus of the party a 
Menshevik since 190a he had joined Lenin s Communists only after 



102 The Incompatible Allies 

the October Revolution, in 1918 Seven 7 ears later the Fourteenth 
Party Congress elected him a member of the party s all powerful 
Central Committee Yet this high rank, the result of his able service 
plus the momentary pohucal constellation of 1925, did not give him 
lasting influence over party policies This was not so much because 
of Chichenn’s personal career, rather it reflected the precarious 
position of the Foreign Comnitssanat within Soviet politics and the 
contradictory nature of Soviet foreign policy as a whole To put it 
•with exaggerated bluntness The very pursuit of foreign relations, 
and the very existence of a Foreign Commissariat headed by a right 
wing fellow traveler in the Communist party, were concessions grudg 
mgly made by revolutionary Communum only under severe duress 
and for many years the Soviet system as a whole struggled with great 
difficulty to absorb this alien body into its organism The reason for 
this will become clear if we inquire into the motives behind Soviet 
Russia's dealings with the outside world 
Soviet foreign policy has always rested on two basic motivations 
the extension of the proletarian revolution to other important coun 
tries, and the preservation and strengthening of the Soviet state Only 
the second of these aims leads directly to the formulation of a foreign 
policy, that is an attempt to regulate the relationship between the 
Soviet state and other states TTie revolutionary ambitions of the 
Kremlin in themselves are rather a denial of all efforts to make 
foreign policy Hence in the first months, when the revolutionary 
policies of Moscow were not only overriding all other considerations 
but -here also thought to be immediately feasible and on the current 
agenda the Bolshevik regime bad no foreign policy proper, instead, 
lU first international acts were exclusively designed to further the 
spread of revolution in Europe and Asia Theoretically, sucli a 
fundamentally negative attitude to foreign policy as such is still the 
basic motive of Communist action, the party program of 1919 is based 
on the premise that "the era of worldwide proletarian Communist 
revolution has begun ” and this program has never been abolished 
But even before Bukharin wrote the Gnt draft of the program, the 
Central Committee of the party had been compelled to think about 
the possibility that the spread of the revolution might be delayed 
From the long range point of view of historical materialism, this 
delay might not be a cause for concern, tune is of no essence for any 
one who approaches the broad stream of historical developments as 



103 


PersonalUtes end Problems of the Rapallo Era 

a contemplative observer But for the party that had just won poner 
m Russia tlie timing of the world revolution was a matter of life 
and death If in the boundless optimism that accompanied their ac 
cession to power the leaders were slow to realize this it was dra 
tnatically driven home to them by the German offensive early in 
1918, which rapidly knifed through the weakened and war weary 
Russian front Riga fell Petrograd was threatened And by thus 
raising die possibility that the capital and vital parts of the country 
would fall to the Germans, the offensive was a direct threat to the 
existence of the revolutionary regime of Lenin and his party 

This grave situation confronted the Communist party of Russia 
with an insoluble dilemma If the new Socialist republic was to re- 
main true to Its internaiionalist traditions and Socialist ideals, the 
German offensive could be regarded only as an occasion for Com 
munist propaganda and revolutionary resistance The heroic struggle 
of the * Communards ’ of the October Revolution wouM either arouse 
the indignation of the proletariat in all the countries at war. or 
it would go into the annals of revolutionary history as a mighty, 
heroic example Of course, none of the Communist leaders who ad 
vocaied the proclamation of revolutionary war (and they were by 
far in the majority within the Central Committee) faced the prospect 
of heroic defeat lightheartedly The Bolshevik fights not to lose but 
to win Vet, weak as the Soviet Russian state might be against the 
armies of Wilhelm II, the advocates of revolutionary war saw no 
alternative, for any other course of action would have necessitated 
compromises with proletarian orthodoxy Specifically, a shameful 
peace would have to be concluded by the Socialist state with Imperial 
Germany 

This peace was actually concluded on March 3, 1918, at Brest 
Litovsk, after the German armies had resumed their offensive and 
the Allies had remained silent to Russian requests for help Lenin, 
almost alone against the great majority of his comrades had pointed 
Out to them that, in a bourgeois world, any act would in effect favor 
one or the other of the imperialist antagonists, hence attempts to 
preserve the proletarian purity of the party % actions were unrealistic 
and in effect threatened all the gams the revoluuon had made so 
far In effect, Lenm argued that the most important achievement of 
the revoluuon so far was the Soviet stete. hence to preserve and 
strengthen that state would be the most consistently revolutionary 



104 The Incompatible Allies 

course of action The Manifesto of the Second Comintern Congress 
stated this very sharply by declaring that the Communist Interna 
tional [that is the self styled representatives of the revolutionary 
world proletariat] has declared the cause of Soviet Russia to be its 
own cause * With this hos^ever a Soviet raison d e/at vas born and 
a Soviet foreign policy began to be developed 

Trotsky who had been opposed to the conclusion of a peace with 
Germany resigned from his post as foreign commissar to become the 
top organizer and strategist of the Civil War his former portfolio was 
taken over by a man who although a veteran Marxist tended much 
more to think m terms of old style Russian foreign policy It was quite 
fitting that Georgi V Chichenn had served however briefly in the 
tsarist Foreign Office On Lenin s suggestion and against sharp op 
position from the left wing idealists who had drafted the party pro- 
gram a passage was incorporated in its economic section which 
stated that it had now become essential to look after the exten 
Sion of economic collaboration and political connections with other 
nations * 

The sharpness of the turn must not be overstressed True enough 
in its desire to strengthen the Communist state the Kremlin was 
resolved to make a pact with any nation from among the imperial 
ists Yet another important method of Soviet foreign policy >vas still 
to invest as it were in proletarian revolution and other social un 
rest abroad to support foreign movements of revolt and to run the 
Communist International in which foreign Communist parties were 
organized In this sense the world revolutionary goals of Communism 
were incorporated into the new ratson deiat of Bolshevik Russia 
What a difference there is however between world revolutionary 
activities which are part of a national policy and world revolutionary 
activities which are the mam end m themselves utiluing foreign 
policy only as a meansl Here is the root of the great difficulty that 
faces anyone who wants to have a real understanding of the motives 
of Soviet behavior 

It would be rash to assert that the revolutionary goal has definitely 
been transformed into an instrument subordinated to the Soviet 

iVtoTOt kongress kommunuttchgskogo tntematstonala stenograficheskit oien^ 

(Petrogiad 1921) p 647 

sEm Yaroslavik 1 eil Voi’moi seid f9 2^ Alarta rW? i InsOW* 

Marksa Engel sa Lenma pn TjR VKP(b) {Partixdat Moscow 1935) p 392 



105 


Personalities and Problems of the Rapallo Era 

raison d'etat The fine seeps toitard die development of a foreign 
policy, taken at Brest Litovsk, were meant to be no more than a 
temporary expedient designed to secure a breatlimg space during 
which the headquarters of the resolution could carry on while the 
world proletariat prepared to come to its aid This theory of the 
‘breathing space’ {peredyshka) was an opportunistic resolve to 
adjust policy to momentary arcumstances This type of concept does 
not provide the rulers with a policy, but with a justification, instead 
of prescribing any specific course of action it merely justifies not 
doingcertam things, that is, not pursuing an active and unbending 
world revolutionary policy The net effect was that the Kremlin 
developed two lines of policy that had little to do with each other 
in aim and execution When Lenm told the Eleventh Party Congress 
on March 27, 1922, that "we are going to Genoa not as Communists 
hut as traders,” ■ the implication was that a sharp line could be 
dravm between the two courses of action, and that the trading hand 
of the Kremlin need not know what die revolutionary hand was 
doing 

As the revolutionary storm unleashed by the war began to abate, 
the concept of the "breathing space turned into that of the ‘ transi 
tional period '* Karl Radek roundly asserted that the situation had 
been Ranged completely The world revolution would not come 
as a sudden explosion, but would take the form of corrosion, that is, 
a long process, ’and because it will be a long process with vvhich 
we have to reckon, Soviet Russia vmU not be spared the problem of 
seeking and finding a modus vwendt with the states that are still 
capitalistic ■ ’ Some months earlier kenin had stated the same thing 
in much more positive terms, he proudly claimed that "we have 
won ourselves conditions under which we may exist side by side 
with capitalist states who are now forced to enter into trade relations 
with us we have won ourselves the right to an independent 
existence Thus we see that we have not only a breathing 
space but something much more substantial we have a phase 
when our basic international existence has been fought for and at 
timed « iehiii the Irsaieu'oii oS sapotabsl states ” » From this so 


“V I Lenin Soc/unenjya 2nd ed XXVJI 226 

^Karl Radek Dm ausnarltge PoMik Soujet Ruxstands, Bibliothek der Korn 
munisuichen Iniernationite (Hamburg 1921) pp ST 58 
'Lenin op cil.XXV, 401 



106 The Incompatible Allies 

Stalin’s demand to build Soaalism in Russia alone is Only one step 

But even when Stalin, sensing that the stability and prosperity of 
the mid twenties would last lor a number of yean in the capitalist 
world, proclaimed the feasibility and necessity of building Socialism 
in a single country, the world revolutionary goals of the Soviet regime 
were by no means forgotten Even i£ some of the Bolshevik leaders 
were ready to devote all their efforts to the strengthening of their 
domestic regime, the cause of continued world revolu tion was squarely 
represented in the CoTumtern as well as m the Russian Communist 
party, and the Soviet raison d'etat had to be on the defensive much 
of the time Thus, at the Fourth Congress of the Third International 
Bukharin had to assure the foreign comrades that it was perfectly 
proper for a proletarian state to fonu alliances with capitalist gov 
ernments or accept loans from them, and he exhorted the foreign 
parties to be loyal to such alUances and to support them ® Such a* 
surances and exhortations had to be repeated again and again 

Eight yean after the proclamation of the NEP, eleven years after 
Brest Litovsk, the world depression ona again provided fertile 
ground for revolutionary discontent, and the left wing international 
uts within the Communist movement were heartened by a new in 
tensification of the Comintern s revolutionary activities A new 
revolutionary situation seemed to be in the making Yet it is inter 
esting to compare Stalin's reaction to this new rise of the tide with 
Lenin s customary reaction At the peak of world prosperity, on 
December 5, 1927, Stalin spoke before the Fifteenth Party Congress 
We live he said on the eve of a new revolutionary period Imperial 
ism IS rotten to the core but in its agony, it is preparing desperate 
moves A new anti Bolshevik crusade is being planned How should 
the party meet this threat? Stalins proposed policy is remarkable 
The task, he said is to postpone and avoid war Soviet Russia should 
pay ransom to the capitalist world and try to maintain peaceful re 
lations with it The slogan should be, ”Do ut des"\ I shall make con 
cessions if you make concessions 

Before Brest Litovsk, if not afterward as well, Lenin would have 
drawn the entirely opposite conclusion from Stalin’s first sentence 
A new revolutionary tide is nsmg? A crisis is ripening? How wonder 
full The party’s task will be to further this development and speed 

*/F fsemimyi Kongress Kommunaltekakogo Intemaiswnala librannye 
Doklady, Recht i ReiohutVi (Moscow PetFognd 1923) pp 195-190 



PeTsonahites and Problems of the RapaUo Era 107 

It up, to deepen the crisis and sharpen the class war so as to bring 
It to a revolutionary clash 

Now we see hov\? much the strategy of world Communism was 
being subordinated to the national policy of the Soviet state 

Official Soviet ideology has never admitted the existence of such a 
problem and denies that ideals be subordinated to power politics or 
intraparty machinations For that purpose it must proclaim the 
absolute identity of the interests of the world proletariat with the 
aims of the Soviet government and the activities of the Russian Com 
munist party. But this is at best a highly doubtful proposition In 
the past, at least, these two interests have often been in conflict, and 
only now, as Soviet Russia has grown to the strength of a real world 
poiver, and revolution is spread on the bayonets of the Red Army, 
world revolution and Soviet security considerations appear to merge 
But m the past the world revolutionary activity of the Comintern 
and the foreign policy of the Soviet state have handicapped and 
fnistratedcachother Moscow’s lead in the Communist International 
and Moscow's endeavors to co-ordinate Comintern policy with purely 
Russian policy have utterly wrecked a number of good chances for 
successful revolution and have in other ways damaged non Russian 
Communist movements Conversely. Moscow s association with the 
Comintern has often been a source of serious embarrassment and a 
dangerous obstacle to the Soviet state Marxian Socialist though he 
was, Chichcnn often felt the Communist ideological heritage to be 
a very undesirable impediment to the free pursuit of Soviet foreign 
policy A colleague of mine once asked him (in December, 1925) why 
the Soviet Union would not consider entering the League of Nations 
Chichenn’s reply was "If we were in the League, we should have 
to take a stand on every question that comes up, as it is, we have 
^ free hand to act as we see fit Moreover, in the League we should 
have to play the same role as the KPD does in your Reichstag but 
we have not the slightest intention of playing that role In short, 
Cbjcherin was aware that the world expected Communists to behave 
like Communists, and the world should not be let down, hence his 
desire to avoid all situations m which it would be necessary to be 
have according to this pattern 

Little incidents sometimes illustrate the relationship between 
Communist ideals and the Soviet raison d etat more strikingly than 
large political developments In 1923 the Third International was 



108 The Incompatible Allies 

running sailors’ homes in Odessa, Murmansk, and other ports, and 
its agents successfully persuaded a number of foreign sailors to jump 
ship and stay in the homeland of all proletarians But the GPU 
would regularly deport the sailors as suspicious foreigners who had 
entered the country illegally it was far more concerned with the 
task, of national domestic security than with the problem of re- 
cruiting new members for the cause oE world Communism 

The foreign Communist and the internationalise dissenter within 
the Russian party who fell his ideals betrayed by a selfish Soviet na 
tional policy or by personality clashes within the Russian party 
hierarchy naturally stressed the evils of Moscow s influence over the 
revolutionary cause As early as 1924 a then prominent German 
Communist, Karl Korsch, dared to shout the epithet ' Soviet iiii 
penalism' before the assembled Fifth Comintern Congress in Mos 
cow Karl Korsch, Ruth Fischer, Leon Trotsky Ignazio Silone, Tito, 
and similar heretics axe, or have been, divided by many important 
issues but the complaint they all make, or have made, is that the 
Communist International and tlie Communist movements all over 
the world have become tools of Soviet national policy and the Ru& 
Sian Communist party 

It was equally natural however that my diplomatic colleagues and 
I, who were trying to conduct diplomatic business with the Soviet 
state, were perturbed over the aflihatton of Moscow with the Comm 
tern for the exactly opposite reason We did not mind if con«deta 
tions of narrow national interest wrecked movements of proletarian 
revolt in Germany, England, China, or anywhere else, we worried, 
instead, over the lingering influence of world Communism on Soviet 
foreign policy Count Ramrau in particular, fretted constantly 
over the influence of the Comintern tvhich, he said burdened the 
structure of German Soviet relations like an excessive mortgage, and 
he was among those who constantly uiged the Soviet foreign com 
missar to clarify the precise influence of the Comintern over the 
Soviet state Under this insistent prodding Chicherin from the very 
beginning made a strenuous effort to dissociate Soviet foreign policy 
from revolutionary Communism, and the Soviet state in general from 
the Communist party, at least in die eyes of foreign diplomats And 
the acceptance of this myth became one of the conditions of maintain 
ing tenable relations with the Soviet state As a Pravda editorial of 
March 18, 1930, put it, I£ the German government wants to 



110 The Incompatible Allies 

quired heroic efforts on the part of the ailing Chichenn, and only 
a man with his fanatical, self immolating devotion to his job could 
have carried on for almost twelve years, as he did Moreover, he had 
enemies in influential places, as a matter of fact, one of his bitterest 
antagonists, with whom he led a running battle of minds and in 
fluence, was his first deputy commissar. Maxim M Litvinov It is 
possible that the antagonism between the latter and Chichenn dated 
back from the early days of their exile in England, where both of 
them spent a good portion of the years before the Revolution of 1917 
They could not have helped knowing each other then, and it is un 
likely that there was any sympathy or agreement between the cul 
tured, sensitive Menshevik and the ruthless, intriguing, and coldly 
rational Bolshevik who was to become his deputy Moreover, on one 
issue they must have clashed head on At the Sixth Congress of the 
Russian Social Demoaatic Labor Party, held at Stockholm m 1906 
by Menshevik and Bolshevik factions together Chichenn was elected 
chairman of an ad hoc commission to inquire into the highway rob 
benes through which Lenin s Bolsheviks had begun to fill their party 
treasury It so happened that Litvinov was deeply involved in these 
highjacking ventures, and it would be astonishing if no personal 
resentment against Chichenn had remained from the inquiry It is 
well known how important petty personal antagonisms are to the 
lonely circles of fanatical exiles, and how long the memory of past 
rivalries lingers m their minds 

Altogether, the antagonism between Chichenn and his first assist 
ant was based both on personality differences and on conflicts over 
policy The clash of personalities resulted in part from the profound 
difference in the two mens origins Without being fully aware of it 
himself, Chichenn, the product of high social circles of Old Russia, 
had retained certain prejudices and inclinations for which Litvinov 
could not have the slightest understanding Even within the circle of 
his Bolshevik comrades, Chichenn could not forget the manners and 
mores of noble society Once, at a dinner given him by a fellow 
Bolshevik, he could not understand why his host asked. And what 
kind of wine would you bke with your meal. Comrade Peoples 
Commissar? ’ 'Just as it should properly be,” he answered First 
the white, and then the red wine ’ He was a very emotional man, 
whose views and thoughts were strongly influenced by feelings And 
he was extremely touchy Litvinovs quiet assurance and determina 



HI 


PenonaUties and Problems of the Rapallo Era 

tion constantly irritated him, and he once complained about him in 
the Kremlin ivilh the charactensuc words “.My assistant is utterly 
unbearable He treau me as Xanthippe treated Socrates " Yet Lit 
\inov probably was not deliberately rude to him. it was only that he 
was a sober, rational thinker who would not allow sympathies or 
anupathies to influence him His jiolicy, his attitude to people and 
things were to be determined only by considerations of expedience 
Litvinov had no friends There was one member of the kollegta 
of the Foreign Commissariat with whom I had established a relation 
ship of mutual confidence I asked him once how he got along with 
Litvinov, and received the significant answer. ' You don t gel along 
with Litvinov, you only work with him — if you have no other choicel ‘ 
The sharp diSerence in their daily routine further contributed to 
make collaboration between them difficult and steadily cooled their 
lelauonship Chicherin worked tlirough the nights, and often he 
could not be reached m the daytime He was a poor administrator 
and spent himseUon minuuae Mountains of dusty files were heaped 
on desks and tables in his office, so tiiat at times he vvas hard pul to 
find a spot where he could scribble a note to one of his subordinates 
or draft an important diplomatic communication In contrast, Lit 
vinov would receive his visitors behind an cnripiy desk which attested 
to his systematic method He would not botlicr with details, he did 
notwaste any time, and he was very skillful in distributing the burden 
of work among his collaborators 

The fact that, m addition, Uie two men did not see eye to eye m 
quesuons of long range policy Jed to an unhealthy nvalry and caused 
the prestige of the Foreign Commissariat to go down considerably, 
since It had to turn to higher authorities for a decision even in un- 
importam matters over which Chicherin and Litvinov could not 
come to an agreement 

For Chicherin, Rapallo was one of the mam pillars of Soviet foreign 
poucy The nocturnal discussions with Rantzau about the meaning 
V Rapallo were, for him, a spiritual need, and the concept 
ot ^‘^nicksalsgemeinschaft w as no empty phrase for him In Litvinov’s 
^cs, however, Rapallo was a political expedient just as any other 
^easurewas Hedefendeditwithhismind,notwithhisheart Hewas 
Sov”° benefits which Rapallo had brought to the 

fought consutently to maintain this relation 
P an carry it further, but only to the extent m which the policy 



112 Incompatible Allies 

of Rapallo fitted in the far broader framework of Soviet foreign 
policy as a whole 

He had scant understanding of the burning interest with which 
Chicherin dealt with the poliucal problems of the Near and Far 
East. His political attention was centered on the West, which he 
knew from the long years of his exile, and with whose problems he 
was familiar And so. while Chicherin argued that in China the 
Kremlin’s policy ought to be to further and deepen the revolution, 
Litvinov advocated caution and argued that the Soviet government 
should play the Chinese trump only for the purpose of putting pres 
sure on England with the aim of reaching an understanding with 
her I was told that m a conference on this problem Chicherin with 
great agitation accused Litvinov of wanting to sell China down the 
river, whereupon Litvinov coolly and contemptuously replied with 
an obscene remark to die effect that it would be better to sell China 
than to miss the bus on concrete political opportunities 

In many respects it was easier and more profitable to deal with 
Litvinov than with his chief The latter was not only a funny and 
irritable old man he was also extremely unsure of himself and his 
superiors Hence he was extremely hesitant to make e\en minor de* 
cisions and unimportant concessions, whereas his assistant readily 
undercook responsibilities with the air of self assurance and even 
showed a certain largesse m many controversial questions He was 
always extremely factual and to the point, and he combined a quick 
grasp of essentials with the ability of getting much work done 

He gave repeated signs of great personal courage Thus, during a 
stay in Lausanne in 1932, he received a delegation of European 
Socialists who pointed out the dangers of letting the Nans in Germany 
grow strong and who tried to convince him of the need for common 
action of all states against Germany Litvinov replied that he was 
by no means in agreement with his government's attitude toward 
National Socialism, but that he was in no position to exert his m 
fluence in the suggested direction Today it would be unthinkable 
for a Soviet diplomat to say that he did not agree with the policies 
of his government The same thing applies to a remark he dropped 
in Paris in 1937, when he was asked about the meaning of the great 

i®His remark u untranslatable also because u is a play on words 'Liu:hsfie 
segodnia prodat chem lavira prosrat " 



Georgi V Chicherin 




H de Ho Id Pho os / c 


Karl Radek 



113 


Personahttes and Problems of the Rapallo Era 
purges that ^sere then under way in Moscow, the wholesale shooting 
o£ marshals and generals, and the public trials o£ the Bolshevik old 
guard LitMnov shrugged his shoulders and said that he too could 
not understand everytliing his government was doing 
Another example o£ his t)pical frankness is a conversation he had 
with Leon Blum m September, 1938, immediately before the Munich 
Conference Blum asked him whether France could expect Soviet 
Russia to come to her assistance in case the Czech crisis led to a 
conflict with Germany According to a very reliable source, Litvinov 
IS said to have replied, "If I remain Foreign Commissar, yes, other 
wise, no ” In the light of all these examples I am quite prepared to 
believe the recent report of the American correspondent Richard C. 
Hottelet about an interview Litvinov supposedly gave him m the 
summer of 1946 I should not be surprised if Litvinov was somewhat 
more cautious m formulating his views on the intentions of the 
Soviet government and on the inevitability of a conflict between 
the Communist and capitalist worlds, but even then the interview 
would furnish a valuable addition to our knowledge of Litvinov as 
a man and as a statesman 

In view of all these quahues, the Moscow diplomatic corps was 
disposed to overlook Litvinovs negauve character traits, the seamy 
aspects of hts personal style of life, and his family problems, even 
though most of us sympathized thoroughly with Mrs Litvinov, an 
intelligent and unproblematic woman whom everyone seemed to 
like Ivy Low was born in England Her uncle. Sir Sidney Low, was 
a w ell known expert in in ternational law w hose books had been trans 
lated even into Russian before the revolution The carefree frankness 
with which Mrs LiCvmov used to talk to members of the diplomatic 
corps was also quite exceptional in Moscow Perhaps this was one 
of the reasons why she was given the advice, in the thirties, to move 
to Sverdlovsk for a while and teach English there But not even this 
experience prevented Mrs Litvmov, after her re turn, from describing 
life in a Soviet provincial town to me in such blunt terms that I 
worried considerably about her personal safety 

The Litvinovs had two children, whom I watched grow up in the 
thirties The boy in particular showed signs of great intelligence 
Once I played a game of chess with his father and was beaten m a 
very short time But when 1 complimented him for his skill, the 



114 The Incompatible Allies 

proud father pointed out that his boy was a far better chess player 
than he 

With all their diSerences o£ badtground, personality, and policy 
orientation, Litvinov. Chicheiin, and most of their collaborators in 
the Foreign Commissariai belonged to the same type o£ Bolshevik 
intellectual who had spent years of exile in Europe On the average 
these men and v. omen were well educated, highly cultured and setisi 
me people, many of diem were Jews and a few came from the highest 
strata of the old society One of the latter was Radek's beautiful and 
enchanting mistress, Larissa Reusner, whose premature death was 
felt as a most cruel blow of fate by this satyr like man As a rule, 
these people possessed mutative, imagination, cleverness, and negoti 
atmg skill Many of them had mastered several foreign languages and 
had learned to adapt themselves to the Western mentality Thus they 
were invaluable as diplomats and trade representatives, and contact 
With them tvas a rewarding experience, even though the non Com 
munist could never overcome the feeling that fundamentally, these 
Marxist intellectuals locked down with a certain condescending pity 
on us poor blundering represenutives of the doomed bourgeois class 

In the earliest years of my stay m Moscow, the material misery of 
the country was so great that not even the members of the govern 
ment nor I myseU could escape its effects This precluded any form of 
social life How could I, for instance, have given a party of any sort 
as long as I lived in just one very modest room? Yet there was ample 
opportunity for me to learn about people and affairs m Moscow The 
Cheka did not yet considerevery foreigner as a dangerous spy Nor was 
It considered to be an act of treason i£ Soviet officials who could man 
age to get away from tlieir duties entered into an exchange of ideas 
with foreigners Scientists and professors were not in danger of arrest 
when they tried to re establish contacts with the outside world after 
the many years of isolation through war and revolution The entrance 
to the Kremlin was not yet so hermetically sealed as it is today, so 
that officials like Radek, Bukhann and many others felt free to 
invite foreigners This changed, however, as early as the mid twenties, 
when the protocol office of the Foreign Commissariat, and through it 
the GPU, increasingly regulated the contact of Soviet officials vvith 
foreigners Thus we had, on certain occasions to deal with obvious 
agents of the secret police, if we wanted to maintain informal out of 
channel contacts with otherwise inaccessible Soviet officials 



PersonalUtes and Problems of the Rapallo Era 


115 


3. A YEAR OF CRISIS 

We of the German Embassy often tried to impress on our col 
leagues in Berlin the comparauve insignificance of the Foreign Com 
missariat Much to Chichenn's acutcdiscomfori, he was often reduced 
to the rule of spokesman and whipping boy for the Central Cora 
mittee or e\ en the GPU His Commissariat fulfilled the role of public 
relations office and complaint department where foreign gos emments 
could turn to seek redress against the Kremlin s offensive actions It 
would have liked to engage in aoibiuous and clever world politics, 
but w as reduced to be the voice which announced and defended, but 
seldom made, foreign policy The real decisions were made by the 
Central Committee of the Communist party, or by the Politburo 
Only at this level could atterapu be made to ccMJrdmate Soviet policy 
as a whole and let a unified line emerge from party feuds, interna 
tional considerauons, domesuc issues, and world revoluuonary as 
piratioru 

This struggle between the major forces in Soviet society, and the 
way in which it robbed the NklD of policy making functions, be 
came very obvious to us in J92S, perhaps the most exatmg and 
critical period in German Soviet relations This was the last year 
of the postwar aftermath, the period when the shooting had ended 
and the peace treaties were signed, but the war v^as still being fought 
vvidi great bitterness on the political front, with the problem of 
reparations as the outstanding issue between Germany and France 
Equally, the Russian Revolution was sail causing some of its initial 
chain reactions, though we can say in retrospect that the tide of 
proletarian revolution wa* gradually receding after 1918 Europe, 
in this period, was paying heavily for the war, and violent class 
struggles raged to decide how the burden of sacrifice was to be dis 
tnbuted A state of near war continued m Central Europe and else- 
where, even after the peace treaties had been signed, and a state of 
near revolution or near civil war prevailed within a number of coun 
tries This situation reached the bteakic^ poiDi an January of 192X 
when French and Belgian troops occupied the vital Ruhr basin, heart 
of industrial Germany, and isolated it from die rest of the country 
The difficulties, hardships, and humiliaaons that fell on the shoulders 
of the nation brought the economic and political crisis m Germany to 



116 The Incompatible 

a fever pitch It looked as if the war might break out anew, this tune 
to deliver a death blow to the German Republic, and for the first 
tune since the spring of 1921 the Kremlin, appeared to believe in the 
real possibility of a Bolshevik revolution in Germany 

Moscow’s relations to Germany had been characterized by the 
Rapallo Treaty, an agreement made with a bourgeois government, 
and directed against the victor powers, on the assumption that, as 
Chicherm once put it, Soviet Russia could maintain friendly rela 
tions much more easily with oppressed nations than with the victors 
‘The government of the oppressed class — he had said— ‘has, of 
course, far fewer quarrels with the governments of oppressed na 
tions And it is only natural that we should want to have good 
neighborly relations with a state that wishes neither to subject nor 
to exploit Soviet Russia ” But, until the end of 1923, Germany was 
equally the center of hope and focus of interest for the Communist 
International and its revolutionary aspirations The greatest expec 
tations of the Russian Communists for a supporting revolution had 
been concentrated there By the tune of the Ruhr occupation, these 
expectations had, it is true been severely disappointed, but they 
had not yet been killed The revolution of November, 1918, had not 
wrought any substantial changes in the class structure of Germany, 
and the shortlived Bavarian Soviet Republic had proved to be a 
pitiful adventure Somehow, the German proletariat had not come 
up to the traditional expectations (lie Communists had of it Lenin's 
frame of ideas prevented him, however, from acknowledging the 
disappointing fact squarely Instead of blaming the German prole 
tanat as a class for being disinclined toward revolution, the Russian 
Communists blamed its leadership, the Social Democratic party 
They could do so more easily since the two outstanding revolutionary 
leaders in Germany Karl laebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, had 
been murdered after the abortive Spartacus uprising of January. 
1919 In a political sense Lenin and his friends were quite right if 
they attributed the failure of Communism in Germany to the Social 
Democrats For, from the very begmnmg of the dismtegTaiion of the 
Kaisers regime the Socialists had shirked no means to combat the 
danger from the Left, if Conunumsm was defeated in Germany, this 
was largely to the credit of Ebert, Noske, Scheidemann, and the other 
right wing Socialist leaders Of course, these men did not fail to meet 
stiS resistance against their ad Aoc alliances with the old ruling classes. 



117 


Personahties and Problems of the Rapallo Era 
and for a while Moscow sought vigorously to exploit the resistance 
on tlie part of large sections of the working class In the summer of 
1920 the Independent Sociahst party was invited to participate at 
the Second Comintern Congress, and four of its clnefs appeared in 
Moscow, giving me a chance to meet them During their stay I tried 
my best to acquaint them with tlie real situation in Russia as I saw 
It and to enlighten them about the waning popularity of the Com 
munist regime even among the Russian working population To- 
gether with Dittmann, Crispien, Daumig, and koenen, 1 took a trip 
to the town of Kolomna, eighty miles southeast of Moscow, to visit a 
large machine w orks, where the shortcomings of the Bolshevik experi 
ment in the field of industry could be visibly demonstrated I found 
the firs t tw o men predisposed to share my views, but failed to convince 
the others (Koenen later joined the German Communist party and is 
today a member of the SED [Socialist Unity Party] ) Later that year, at 
Its Halle Congress, the Independent Socialist party split, the left wing 
joined the Comintern, and the right wing gradually found its way 
back into the Social Democratic party The Comintern had sent its 
eloquent head, Zinovyev, to the congress to ply his an of persuasion 
One of his chief antagonists at Halle turned out to be Dutmann, who 
threw the experiences and observations he had gathered m Moscow 
into the scales and thus prevented some of the Independents from 
merging with the Communists In connection with his performance at 
Halle, Zinovyev, together with Lozovsky, was expelled from Ger 
many (He had entered with Berlin s express approval, granted on 
the theory that it might be best lo let ihe Russians have their say 
Apparently the German authorities changed their mmd after wit 
nessing his dazzling performance on the speaker's platform ) Shortly 
afterward I heard and watched him deliver a four hour speech about 
his experiences, in which he angrily denounced Dittman and his ilk 
as traitors to the cause of the German and international proletariat 
Zinovyev was one of the most brilUant speakers the party had in 
Russia His passionate delivery, bi$ vivid descriptions, and his daz 
zlmg oratory not only caught the momentary attention of his audi 
ence but them fnr iuous on end The heart and Sajih oi 

the masses were not with him, however, because basically he was no 
more than an ambitious and selfish demagogue Nor w ere the people 
slow in finding out that his style of life was anything but proletarian 
Zinovyev’s bearing could at times be actually provocative I remember. 



118 The IncompaUble Allies 

for example, an incident m the summer of 1921 -when the departure 
of a tram in uhich I was going from PetrogracI to Afoscow was de 
layed two hours at the order of Zinovyev just because the schedule 
Has inconvenient for him. and two coaches crammed full with 
passengers were disconnected because Zinovyev insisted that his 
heavy parlor car be attadied to the tram He obviously did not mind 
the fact that, after we arrived in Moscow, his car blocked the rails for 
a considerable time because he had not finished lus morning toilet 
and showed no intention of getting out The brash manner in which 
he showed himself at the open window in flashy pajamas could not 
be anything but extremely provocative in those years 

The Russian Communists hatred of right wing Socialists, and of 
the German Social Democratic party m particular, is one of the most 
important factors that shaped the relationship between Soviet Russia 
and bourgeois Germany This hatred was much deeper and bitterer 
than their feelings toward the bou^eoisie or the feudal reaction, that 
was more like a healthy, normal antagonism Communism had fore- 
seen and expected It as the inevitable class antagonism of the capitalist 
mode of production hence it was $o much taken for granted that 
relations that were almost cordial could arise, as between natural 
enemies who yet respect each other and at times conclude and keep 
agreements It was much more difficult lor the Communists to have 
any dealings with right wing Socialists, and they felt it utterly im 
possible to hav e respect for them The Socialists aversion from a pre- 
occupation with revolutionary action was seen as a deviation from the 
expected norm, a dirty and despicable perversion The enniiiy of 
capitalists was normal and could be explained that of the Socialists 
could only be condemned m moral terms Reactionaries and bout 
geois parties could be used as partners in temporary alliances. Social 
Democrats could only be destroyed as a political force 

This feeling was mutual hence, even though the right wing parties 
in Germany claimed to have a virtual monopoly on patriotism and 
anti Communism, no political group was more consistent in its op 
position to Moscow than the SPD This opposition expressed itself 
not only in domestic affairs, where alliances with the Communists 
were almost inevitably shumicd, but also in. an equally strong pref 
erence for the West in foreign policy No wonder, tlien, that the 
Kremlin worked hard to prevent the establishment of a Socialist 
government m Germany, an effort whidi was watched with satisfac 



119 


Persanaltttes and Problems of the Rapallo Era 
tion by some o£ the embassy personnel In retrospect it seems really 
remarkable that Chicherm and Litvinov could openly discuss iviih 
German diplomats the desirability of keeping the SPD out of office 
Only Soviet attacks on Friedrich Ebert, who after all was tlie Presi 
dent, would elicit protests from the embassy 

If the Kremlins attitude toward the German Socialists was nega 
tive, its appraisal of tlie right wing parties tv as quite ambivalent On 
the one hand, they preferred men like Hantzau, von Seeckt, and 
Hoetzsch to the Socialists because the former worked for a German 
alliance with Sosiet Russia But iliey s\ere also representatives of the 
ruling classes, they did not conceal their hatred of Soaahsiii in any 
form, and ultimately they had to be feared as counter revolutionaries 
For that reason the kremlins readiness to make a pact with the 
Conservatives would, every once in a while, give way to the exact 
opposite, an intense fear of reacuon At such times the Communists 
would push their profound revulsion against Social Democracy into 
the background and would seek an alliance vvith iL 
For instance, the pitiful failure of the Communist uprisings that 
had broken out in Central Germany early in 1921 had demonstrated 
the weak hold the German Communist party had on the German 
workers and the strength of the ruling classes Moderates within the 
party had used the moment of disgust and disappointment to wrest 
control from the radical wing, and though the Communist Interna- 
tional loudly blamed the German Socialists for having helped the 
bourgeoisie and the generals back into power it proclaimed the need 
for a broad front of the entire proletariat against the threat from 
the right For the sake of saving the repubhc, the Bolsheviks sought 
the CO operation of all working class elements and declared themselves 
willing to make compromise with the right wing Socialists And 
when the latter showed tendencies, in turn, to make compromises 
with the bourgeois parties, the Comintern Executive Committee 
screamed, German workers Do not permit the United Front to 
collapsel Yet less than five months later, Karl Radek, writing in 
Pravda, on November 24, 1922, asserted that the German bourgeoisie 
was readying itself for a 'white dictatonhip," and exhorted the 
German workers to wage open revolutionary battle This rapid 
change of tune is indicative of the dilemma Communist Russia was 
facing as the crisis in Germany sharpened 
it Pravda July 9 1922 



120 Incompatible Allies 

In Moscow ue became aware of the dilemma when a Russian 
language paper rn Reval, Zkizn’, teported on September I, 1922, that 
the Soviet Council of Peoples’ Commissars, a week before, had de- 
bated what to do in case of a French seimre of the Ruhr, which had 
been expected ever since the middle of the year Radek and Karakhan 
were alleged to have advanced the proposal that Soviet Russia should 
prepare to come to Germany s help if the Ruhr were occupied by 
France The famous head of the GPU, Dzerzhinsky, and the commis 
sat of lustice, Rutsky, according to the paper, had opposed the propo- 
sition on the basis of arguing that a French occupation would pro- 
duce such upheavals as would unleash a Communist revolution 
Moscow, they allegedly argued, should wait until the Communists 
were in power m Germany only then should the Red Army cross 
through Lithuania and Poland and attack the French in Germany 
At this point, the paper continued, Trotsky spoke up to support 
Radek and Karakhan Russia could not afford to wait for a Com 
muntst revolution in Germany instead it would be in her interest to 
support the existing German government For, by threatening Ger 
many, France constituted an immediate threat against the Soviet 
state "The opinion of Trotsky and Radek prevailed,’ the paper 
concluded 

1 have no way of determining to what extent this report was based 
on fact Nevertheless, whether the conference took place or not, it 
is true that m the last months of 1922 Moscoiv made great efforts 
to assure us of its support m the event of a Ruhr occupation Trotsky 
himself came to Count Ranuau on December 22nd and promised 
that Russia would interfere if, in the event of a Ruhr invasion, 
Poland should simultaneously try to occupy Silesia After French 
and Belgian troops had actually moved into the Ruhr basin, the 
Soviet government immediately made open protests against the act, 
and many leading Soviet statesmen assured us of their country’s sup 
port 'The mam plank in our foreign policy platform, ' said Clu 
cherin to Rantzau at that time, is to cultivate more cordial relations 
with Germany than sviih any other country ’ Yet there were indica 
tions that Moscow did not unequismcally take the German side m 
the conflict An editorial in the official government organ fsuestiya 
of March 14 1923, asserted that Russia was eager to establish normal 
relations svith France As for the events in the Ruhr, the paper took 
an attitude of detachment All this, it said, was. an episode m the 



Personaltlies and Problems of the Rapallo Era 121 

disintegration of capitalism going on before Soviet eyes, and it did 
not force Russia to take sides More disturbing than the flirting 
with France was the news received from Germany that Russian 
Communist agents were steadily intensifying their activities there 
Was the Kremlin pursuing a nvo-faced policy of openly supporting 
the bourgeois government and secretly fanning a proletarian revolu 
taon? 

For our part, isolated from events m the home country, dependent 
on dispatches from Berlin, we were at that time fully convinced of 
the Janus-headed policy of the Kremlin But it was not a simple 
proletarian Communist revolution that was being prepared Instead, 
Moscow s emissaries were at that time planning a "national Bolshe 
vik’ uprising that was directed as much against the French occupa 
Cion as against the German bourgeoisie The plan was an ingenious 
attempt to link proletarian socialism with the national sentiments 
that had been aroused m Germany, and by the same token it sought 
to combine the interests of Soviet security vvith those of world Com 
munism 

It seems that Moscow in the beginning regarded the Ruhr events 
primarily as a threat to its own security “The Ruhr adventure,” 
Chichenn wrote with obvious annoyance, ' has administered a shock 
to the political and economic life of all Europe, and thus brought 
great harm upon the Soviet republics which require economic re 
lations with other countries ’ ** 

Karl Radek was even more speafic In an article published in 
Izvestiya on August Slst under the title "Hands off Germany,” he 
wrote "If the capitalists of the Entente should succeed in tearing Ger 
many in pieces and erecting their rule at the expense of the defeated 
working people, that would constitute the greatest danger for Soviet 
Russia Indeed, the total occupation of Germany by French troops 
would have posed an immediate threat to Soviet Russia’s ^Vestern 
border That, before all, had to be prevented As long as a right wing 
bourgeois government m Berlin stood up to France, Moscow would 
give it Its support. Only when the cabinet of Wilhelm Cuno was 
replaced by the Siresemann cabmet. an indication that Berlin’s re 
sistance was w eakening, did the Kxemlin begin looking for other ways 
Some leaders seem to has e pressed for preparing a proletarian revolu 
tion But the prevailing opinion jn Moscow seemed lo be, during the 
tb\d . Feb 15 1923 



122 The Incompatible Allies 

summer months that a Communist uprising in Germany even if 
feasible would only invite disaster because Poincare would immedi 
ately use it as a pretext for further repressive measures against Ger 
many As Radek put it in a confidential chat with one of my col 
leagues In case o£ radical upheavak in Germany Russia will have 
to expect to see French troops on the shores of the Berezina Hence 
we Communists are interested in Germany s political and economic 
stability Theoretically a German Communist regime w'ould be 
highly desirable but it would at once be crushed by France I haie 
told my comrades in Germany Radek. concluded that they would 
commit the greatest blunder if they let themselves be beaten in case 
of an attack and that they must defend their country to the last 
breath And he spoke moving words about the common destiny of 
Germany and Russia 

But if Radek was so pessimistic about the chances of a German 
proletarian revoluuon and given Siresemann s e5oris at a conciliatory 
policy of fulfillment what could be done to keep the French out 
of Germany? Radek s solution was a plan to enlist the broadest 
sections of the German population in a national Bolshevik revolt 
directed simultaneously against the French -invasion and the Gw 
man bourgeoisie that seemed ready to come to terms with the West 
He wanted to utilize not only the grievances of ihe proletariat but 
also the outraged patnouc sentiments of the farmer the student 
the small businessman in short of all the petty bourgeois elements 
who could be aroused by slogans of naiionahsm He meant to make 
an alliance with all the extreme right wing enemies of the republic, 
that fascist scum against which the rank and file of the party 
were waging bloody guerrilla warfare For that purpose he wanted 
to persuade the extreme right tliat Germany s national struggle of 
resenge against Versailles could never be waged successfully without 
the enthusiastic participation of the proletariat Thus in late summer 
while Chicherin Kamenev and Rykov were apparently still advo 
eating that Moscow stick by the government of Stresemann Radek 
held tliat a national Communist revoluuon was approaching and 
should be supported ** The facts that Count Rantzau none the less 

IS In late September the embassy lettived an anonymous report about a con 
ference held by Trotsky in which Radek Kamenev Rykov Molotov Chjehenn 
Dzerzh nsky and Krasin ivere said to haic paitcipaccd Rykov Kamenev and 
Ch chenn t said had expressed no confidence in a German revolution and bad 



Personahties and Problems of the Rapallo Era 123 

continued to cultivate his contacts with Radek and that ray relation 
ship w ith him remained undisturbed are typical of the ivhole nature 
of German Soviet relations jn those years, and of Radek's speaal 
position 

By October, 1923, many indications pointed to a change in Soviet 
policy Moscow appeared now to work for an exclusively Communist 
revolution in Germany abandoning its efforts at a nationalist Bol 
shevik front against the bourgeoisie The secret fiosv of Russian emis- 
saries to Germany intensified, Berlin was anxiously asking the 
embassy to keep a check on it Particularly Radek s whereabouts iv ere 
worrying the German police, as early as May they had asked us not 
to give him another visa 

On October 10th two German Lander formed left wing coalition 
governments in which Social Democrats and Communists divided the 
cabinet posts betv,een them On that day the Berlin organ of the 
Communist party. Rote Eahne, printed a letter written by Stalin to 
one o£ the German Comraumst leaders Dear Comrade Thalheimer,’ 
the letter began, the coming revolution in Germany is the most im 
portant event of our days The victory of the revoluuon m Germany 
will have greater importance for the proletariat m Europe and 
America than the victory of the Russian revolution six years ago 
The victory of the German proletarian will without doubt transfer 
the center of world revoluuon from Moscow to Berlin ’ But 
the Soaalist governments of Saxony and Thuringia, although es 
tablished in strictly constitutional ways, were crushed a few days 
later vshen President Ebert sent Army units into Central Germany 
to establish a temporary military government The last isolated at 
tempt to revive the proletarian revoluuon the Hamburg upnsing 
iihich began on October 22nd was suppressed within a few days 

More than any other event, the failure of the ' German October 
Revolution determined thesubsequent history of world Communism 
and die strategy of the Third Intemauonal \Vithin the Russian 
Communist party ii caused severe disagreements over policy and sharp 
personality dashes to break into the open, n was one of the immediate 

pointed out the economic advantages ol continuing to support the Stresemann 
government Trotsky Dzenhmsky and Krasin the leport alleged bad taken a 
middle posmon by supporting RaijeLs thesis that a revolution was imminent but 
arguing that Russia could not coninbute much help to the German revolution 
Again I have no indication conceimng the reliability of this report but it fits a 
pattern that has been sketched by others 



124 The Incompatible Allies 

reasons for the outbreak o£ the Stalin Trotsky leud, and it gave 
Stalm occasion to develop bis theory oC ‘ Socialism m a single coun 
try In AIoscow 5 relations with Germany, it resulted in a determined 
return to the Rapallo policy of friendship with the bourgeois govern 
ment m Berlin In this sense the pobcy of Chicherin had a 
complete victory None the less a strain had been introduad into the 
German Soviet ‘common destiny Toward the end of December 
some documents published by Ruth Fischer gave a glimpse into the 
extern to which Russian enuMaries had participated m the attempts 
at Communist revolt Fifteen months later one of the principal 
Russian organizers of the Communist military apparatus, Skoblev 
sky, was publicly tried before the Supreme Court m Leipzig** In 
addition, in December, 192$, Berlin asked the Soviet government to 
recall a member of its embassy, because he had been found to be a 
military agent This man who went under the name Petrov, was 
actually a French Communist, who had very successfully wormed 
himself into the confidence of high military circles in Berlin Ac 
cording to police reports he had bought weapons and ammunition 
on a large scale in preparation for revolutionary barricade fighting 
paying with dollar drafts on the Soviet Embassy Count Rantzau, 
boiling with indignation, confronted Trotsky with these tepoits 
his rage knew no bounds when Trotsky calmly admitted that he had 
personally attached Petrov to the Soviet Embassy because he had 
counted on the imminence of revolution in Germany Had not the 
German cabinet itself declared that it was, perhaps the last hour 
geois government in Germany? In any event, he as a Communist had 
felt It his duty to be prepared for such an eventuality In the event 
of a French occupation of all of Germatvy. he said it would have 
been Petrov $ mission to subvert the discipline of the French troops 
and to convert them to Communism Early in the next year Petrov 
was recalled from Berlin 

Chichenn obviously regarded the affair as a terrible personal em 
barrassinent As a matter of fact he would have loved to eradicate the 
memory of the German October days entirely from our minds and 
to remind us instead of the fact that his government had been the 
first to protest against the Ruhr ocxupacion He would never let us 
forget thatSoviet Russian declaratioiu had prevented the Poles from 
invading Germany s eastern pTovwces Early in December of 192S 

nCf Chapter V pp M(M1 



125 


Personahttes and Problems of the Rapallo Era 

he gave a luncheon for the German ambassador at which the entire 
koUegia of the Foreign Commusamt was present, together with 
Krestinsky and Radek Afterward Chichenn, Ranuau, and Radek 
had an intimate talk in which the ambassador led off by urging that 
the Soviet government openly sever its connections with the policies 
of the Third International The count emphasized the danger threat 
enmg German So\iet relations if during Germany’s most trying times 
Russian emissaries were busy preparing Vvorld revolution Besides, 
he flatly stated, the German Communist party was unfit to govern the 
country, it would only wreck everything and deliver Germany to 
the French Had not Radek himself declared a year ago that the time 
was not ^et ripe for world revolution? Annoyed at the challenge, 
Radek cockily said that he thought that the German Communists 
unfitness to govern had yet to be proved, whereas the bourgeois 
parties had already demonstrated (heir political bankruptcy As for 
the declaration suggested by Rantzau, he mtimaied that the Comm 
tern was not run by the Soviet government, and that, in case of a 
conflict of policies, he himself would go with the Incemauonal and 
resign his post in the Central Executive Commitiee At this point 
Chichertn tried to introduce a conciliatory tone by suggesting that, 
really, it was by pure chance that the Third Internauonal had its 
seat m Moscow After all. he smiled, no one had been so foolish as 
to make King Leopold of Belgium responsible for the Second Inter 
national just because it had its headquarters m Brussels By this time 
Radek had calmed down and was trying to appease Rantzau The 
Soviet state, he said, would always know how to collaborate with a 
reactionary government in Germany He reminded the ambassador 
of the words of General von Seeckt "We have to keep our fingers 
tight on the gullet of the Communists, but go together with Soviet 
Russia ’ We are prepared togowiihhim, Radek said, and Chichenn 
injected, ' Mussolini, you know very well, is our best friend” What 
frantic efforts to mend the cracks m the German Soviet common 
desunyt Yet the scars made by the events of October, 1923, could 
never be removed 



V THE RAPALLO ERA 


1 TOWARD LOCARNO 

W,th Oie setllement of the Ruhr couStet and the acceptance by 
ermany of the Dawes Plan of reparation payments the history of 

the^nn^ ^ ^8* which had important repercussions in 

the political relations between Germany and Soviet Russia 
The years 1919-1925 had been a continualion of World War I 
h i‘„r" ^*''“'"‘“°'*'«^t'>'^'l’<>w«shadcap.lulated but ihe 
um,wr“ a'’°, '“"O’"": “»<• ideological warfare lingered 

cunat^ Versailles Ihe snub at Genoa the Ruhr oe 

mT.“ 'iiinittous inSation-these were only the major 

mtlesmnes ou the bitter road of defeat the German people had to 

“ Moscow had stood under the aspect of this 
«re ,h r ‘ >h« was both its weakness and its 

a commondesuny linking the two pariah nations the 
count had seen a means toward breaking the oppressive predominance 
*ip ‘"r’lc 'Vest Ihrough a firm Soviet German friend 

r marked the end of the five year aftermath that had 

followed the First World War and the beginning of Germany s re 

D^Jd “ she had undergone m the 

the V period The London Conference and the Dawes Plan gate 
em stake in her econoimc revival Moreover thetPest 

nnlrfir more sought to engage Germany in international 

Lend J =“ P“‘““ merely as an object of negotiations In 
uZirai delegates had begun to feel that in spue of all 

in ner?„ ''f '«nces it would be easier to represent German interests 
Son^re ■'egotiat.ons w.lh Alhed poht.c.ans than m dealing w ith 
126 epresentatives because all mutual faith and confidence i ere 



127 


The Rapallo Era 
lacking in dealing with the Russians Botli sides constantly suspected 
the other of wanting to play the partner out against his enemies 
The Russians, moTeo\er, acted as if it were a crime if Germany al 
lowed herself to be exploited by the victor states, but only just and 
proper if Soviet Russia did the exploiting Many German diplomats 
had begun to be very ured of dealing with the Sonet state and to 
feel our relations to Russia as a burden in our domestic and foreign 
policy 

In Russia, meanwhile the failure of the German Communist up- 
nsing of 1923 and, in January, 1924, ihe death of Lenm ushered in 
a period during which the internauonal politics of the regime under 
went some noticeable changes, which were dramatized by the legal 
recognition of the Soviet state by most governments of the \Ve5i. 
Moreover, the reconstruction of the national economy to prewar 
levels, which was being achieved toward the second half of the 
twenties, brought the NEP to a point of cnsis and mailted the begin 
ning of the bitter factional disputes within the party over the tasks 
ahead As a consequence, there was m Russia a marked preoccupa 
tion with domestic matters which contributed toward easing her 
relations with the bourgeois world as a whole 

Thus both Russia and Germany had ceased to be the pariahs of 
international poliucs, and with this German Russian relations were 
inevitably taken out of the realm of poliucal romanticism The two 
poi>ers were no longer so dependent on each other Instead, both 
tried to gam a maximum of advantages from the improved situation, 
even if It were at the expense of ihe old SchicksaUgemeinschaft Ger 
man Soviet relations thus assumed the nature of a sober political 
chess game 

Very similar to the Old Bolsheviks who looked back to the turbu 
lent years of War Communism with romanuc nostalgia. Count 
Rantzau had some difficulty adjusting to the subtle change ‘All the 
old charme is gone out of our relations with. Russia, he would often 
remark wistfully And, in a certain sense, many of his activities during 
the last years of his life must be interpreted as a fuule but stubborn 
stru^Ie against the change 

Rantzau used to talk about a two front war he had to wage con 
stantly One of the obstacles he had to overcome in his attempts to 
maintain and revive the German Soviet common destiny was the 
affiliation of the Moscow regime with the international Communist 



128 The Incompatible Allies 

movement This affiliation (not xot»y identity) o£ the Sonet gosem 
ment with die Comintern produced conunual tension in the cordial 
relations Rantzau sought to foster, and much of his energy was ex 
pended in the struggle against the doctrinaires within the Soviet 
goiernment Allied with this was an even more tedious and unreward 
ing fight against Soviet bureaucratic red tape and the clumsiness and 
stubbornness it injected into all dealings with the Kremlin The 
other front’ on which Rantzau fought was the policy of ‘fulfill 
ment adopted by die Wilhelmstrassc, which to him was a constant 
threat to die Rapallo relationship 
A conscientious ambassador who atnu to cultivate good relations 
between his home country and the state to which he is accredited 
inevitably becomes a double representative Not only does he repre- 
sent his own country at the foreign government but he will also 
often be called to be the spokesman of the latter for their point o! 
view before his own people and policy makers Not only will his 
foreign minister asV. him about the opinions, intentions, and rcac 
tions of hu host, if the ambassador feels the need, he will call such 
opinions and reactions to the attention of his chiefs without being 
asked And he will struggle against all those who disturb friendly 
relations between the two states, not only in the country to which he 
18 accredited but even more so in his own homeland 
It is only natural that m view of this, Rantzau and his encourage, 
including myself were in certain German and Western European, 
circles regarded as spokesmen for the interests of the Soviet Union 
or even of internauonal Bolshevism, and we became targets for 
bitter attacks from these quarters 

There were not many in the higher ranks of Germany s policy 
makers who stood by Rantzau in his struggle against the Western 
orientation of the Wilhelmstrasse dunng the mid twenties To be 
sure, one man had not only shared his views but had also brought 
similar fine diplomatic skills and admimstrative experien-ce mto his 
high office Baron Ago von Maltzan as permanent undersecretary, 
had been Rantzau s alter ego m Berlin during the turbulent jears 
between Rapallo and the Dawes Plan When in 1924 Maltzan ex 
changed the office of Staatssekretar for that of German ambassador 
in Washington Rantzau felt that hu position had lost much of its 
foundation The new undersecretary, Herr von Schubert, never con 
cealed his profound dislike of the Russians His political disagree- 



]29 


Thff Rapallo Era 

raent with Rantzau inevitably caused the latter to develop a sharp 
personal antipathy toward Schubert And his relations with the 
foreign minister were similarly strained But however great Rantrau s 
unconcealed personal dislike of Stresemann and von Schubert s\e 
must not forget that bodi these men appreciated the importance of 
Rapallo and did their best to furtlier German Soviet relations 
Stresemann was fully aware of the value of Russia as a trump to be 
played out against the West 

Rantzau s war against two fronts thus stemmed mostly from the 
count s very particular sensiuvity which was not only inherent in his 
own character but which also reQecied the even greater sensitivity of 
the revolutionary regime in Moscow Only this morbid fear and sus 
picion on the part of the Kremlin could after all explain Rantzau s 
eternal v^arnings to avoid — m and out of office — everything that 
might nourish Moscow s deeply rooted distrust of the bourgeois w orld 
anew I remember driving to the Foreign Commissariat with him one 
day (0 discuss a case of alleged espionage by German nationals when 
a platoon of Red Army soldiers marched by Look the other way 
Htlger he said jokingly I don t want them to accuse us of ea 
pionage Again and again he emphasized in his reports to Berlin 
that the Russian people must be actively convinced of Germany $ 
good intentions And particularly the German policy makers should 
never let themselves be abused by the Western powers for the pur 
pose of anti Soviet campaigns or deals 

We should not let Rantzau s sensitivity obscure the fact that his 
policy was in principle identical with that of the Reich government 
he certainly was no spokesman for the Kremlin The difference be 
tween his policy and that of Stresemann was therefore quantitative 
not qualitative In Rantzau s view the German government tended 
to go too far m its attempts at a rapprochement with the West and 
the policy of fulfillment it showed itself too eager and by doing 
so threatened that German-Soviet friendship which even the IVilhelm 
strasse recognized as necessary Hence the struggle between Rantzau 
and his superiors was often over details of execution no one after 
aJJ. V!, v/i vi'i/dv c.cyasa.'vvA'i wi-wics.'i vvi t£i 'Jcie 

professional diplomat 

Ivevertheless there were larger issues over which Berlin and Mos 
cow wrangled with the embassy trying to mediate between the two 
All these problems derived from Germany s gradual swing toward 



130 The Incompatible Allies 

the West and the suspicions this aroused in the Kremlin One of the 
problems "was the attitude of the two Rapallo powers to England. 
In the Kremlin, England was, during the twenties, regarded as the 
chief representative of the capitalist world, and as the principal 
enemy, therefore, of the October Revolution London, not Wall 
Street, was the one symbol which, during these years, epitomized the 
capitalist system The reasons lor this opinion were partly ideological, 
since England was traditionally regarded as the home of classical 
capitalism More immediate and concrete reasons for the Soviet at 
titude dated back to the Civil War, during which English troops had 
occupied sizable parts of northern Russia, and Admiral Kolchak 
had ruled Siberia mostly by the grac^ of England The hate and fear 
concentrated on England had found an individual focus, among 
others, in the person of Winston Churchill, who, for a while, had 
advocated with his characteristic vigor an international crusade of 
the bourgeois world against Russian Communism His stand made 
him one of the chief personal symbols for the capitalist encirclement 
threatening the Soviet regime 

The antagonism between Brium and the Soviet Union must, of 
course, be seen in the larger perspective of history, specifically, m the 
fact that England and Russia had throughout the nmeteenih century 
been rivals on the Asiatic continent From Istanbul to Mukden 
there were a number of tension areas, all along the southern border 
of the Russian Empire, m which the two nations were poised against 
each other in watdtful hostility, and the Bolshevik Revolution did 
not do anything to relieve the tension For England s political 
leaders either had to regard it as a threat no less dangerous than 
tsanst imperialism, or as a -weicome opporvanity to mend political 
fences while Russia was weakened and tom by civil war, and pre 
occupied with domestic problems The resulting aggressive attitude 
o£ the British has never been forgotten m the Soviet Union 

The German Foreign Office could never identify itself with this 
attitude There, too, England was regarded as the kingpin of world 
politics And Germany, like the Soviet state, was, for a while, in the 
positionof outcast within, the concert of nations But Russia s attitude 
of defiance put her into irreconcilable antagonism to the nation ihat 
seemed to play the first fiddle, whereas Germany, bourgeois ’ m 
character and aspirations, wanted to sta^ a comeback, and could not, 
therefore, afford to spoil it by her relations with England This 



I3I 


The Rapallo Era 

fundamental difference of attitudes constituted the prime obstacle 
to a real Soviet German friendship In this lay the reason rvhy the 
Schicksalsgemeinschaft of which both Rantzau and Chicherin 
dreamed never became more than a Zueckgemeinschaft (community 
of purpose) 

No such loose alliance could, however, satisfy the Soviets The 
Communist principle that ‘ those who are not for us are against us * 
was transferred from the area of class svarfare into the realm of in 
ternational politics, and all our assertions that our policy was neither 
pro-Russian nor pro-Bntidi, but simply pro-German, were of no 
avail Every act and every semblance of an act of reconciliation with 
England evoked indignation, accusations, demarches — all implying 
that Germany was joining the anu Soviet bourgeois coalition Similar 
nervous irntauon resulted from any such dealings Berlin had with 
other Western nauons The slightest gesture of good will toward the 
West, the least indication that Germany wanted to negotiate with 
the Versailles powers, was regarded as a symbol of the deterioration 
of German Soviet relations * 

Undeniably the drift of German foreign policy under Stresemann's 
guidance was toward reconciliation with the victor powers Six weeks 
after the Dawes Plan had been accepted. Germany declared its willing 
ness to accept membership in the League of Nations, and immediately 
not only the Moscow Embassy but also the foreign minister had to 
go to great lengths to assure the Russians th at no fundamental change 
in German foreign policy was intended 

Chicherin had a difEcult ume defending his protest against the 
German move He could not, of course, tell us outright that his 
cliief aim was to keep Germany at odds with the Versailles nations 
He could only argue that the Le^ue was a victors club usurping 
privileges which the Soviet Union, as champion of international 
]usuce, would never condone And he scored a hit in Rantzaus 
Achilles’ heel when he asserted that, by entering the League, Ger 
many would be recognizing Versailles and the shameful boundary 
decision m Upper Silesia ' In the present international situation, 
orientation toward the West means for Germany simply an acknowl 
edgment of her present subjugation and promises her absolutely 
nothing positive, ’ Yun Steklov wrrote m Izvestiya of May 24, 1925. 

1 Typical of the countless comments was for instance Kail Radcks bitter de 
nunaation of the replacement of Maluan by >on Schubert {Pta-uda, Dec. 18, 1924} 



132 The Incompatible Allies 

Litvmov -warned ns that Germany could play a much stronger role 
if she remained outside the League than if she entered These points 
rvere exactly those made by the German right u mg foes of the policy 
of fulfillment To refute them, Strcsemann referred to Article 19 of 
the League Covenant providing for the possibility of adjusting the 
peace settlement in the face o£ hanging conditions 

When the Russians in their first sharp reactions against 5trese- 
mann s policies, argued that Germany s entry into the League ivould 
be irreconcilable with the spirit of Rapallo,” they thereby implied 
that, in their vietv, Rapallo was meant to be a league against the 
League But this view -was precisely what the foreign minister wished 
to dispel In his instructions to the embassy he insisted that Rapallo 
could be given a wider and vaguer interpretation making die treaty 
applicable even when the peculiar conditions of the early twenties 
disappeared 

The Russians scored a more telling point when, instead of naming 
Germany against her doom they spelled out the {cais for their ov-ti 
security which Germany s policy switch occasioned By entenng the 
League and underwriting the Covenant, they argued, Germany would 
automatically be obliged, under the provisions of Articles 16 and 17, 
to participate in League sanctions against Soviet Russia and even to 
give the right of passage to Western troops embarking on an antt 
Soviet crusade If Gemiany were to insist on joining the League, 
Moscow demanded that she at least demand to be freed from the 
provisions of these articles Thus the struggle between Moscow and 
Berlin turned from the question over Germany s intention to join 
to the question whether Russia could allow her to enter the League 
Unconditionally As the editors of JzvesUya put it * * The harmful 
and unacceptable aspect of the League of Nations consists just in the 
fact that during an international conflict it can force weaker states 
to comply with Its sovereign will in the interests of a bandit or a group 
of bandits." Germany s good wiU toward Sovvct Russia would be 
measured by the degree of sincere resistance Berlin put up against 
Article 16, tlie editorial continued 

Now, even though Chicherin and his subordinates constantly com 
plained about Germany's lukewarm efforts in this direction, no one 
m Berlin wanted to see French and British troops march through 
Germany on their way to battle with Communist Russia But for 

*Nov 27, 1923 



133 


The Rapallo Era 

Stresemann the task of associating his country with the League with 
out incurring obligations that might spoil the Rapallo relationship 
was a ticklish one Some of Germany’s leading diplomats, particularly 
Leopold Hoesch, the ambassador in Paris, warned that any attempts 
to relieve Gemany of the provisions of Arucle 16 would smack of 
duplicity Moreover, any reassuring declaration Berlin might gi\e to 
Russia could provoke the League powers to issue, even at this late 
date, a very stringent inlerpretauon of the article It speaks for the 
eagerness o£ the Western powers to accept Germany as a sovereign 
partner that, shortly before the end of the Locarno negotiations, they 
declared in a collective note that Germany, were she to enter the 
League, would be obliged to participate in sanctions only to the 
extent commensurate with her tmhtary and geographic situation 
To a considerable extent this took the ground from under the 
Soviet fears, but it never removed these fears completely, and every 
once in a while they cropped up to disturb German Soviet relations 
As late as March, 1927, Ae Soviet press featured an interview von 
Schubert was alleged to have given the Geneva correspondent of the 
Pans Excelsior Von Schubert, the Soviet papers mamtamed, had 
spoken about the right of French uoops to march through Germany 
in order to come to the aid of Poland and Crechoslovakia There had 
indeed been a private conversation between the two men, but no 
mention had been made of the delicate subject When Ranuau 
lodged a sharp protest against ihe vicious press campaign this "news’ 
unleashed m Soviet Russia. Liivmov replied that he did not really 
care whether or not such statements had been made by von Schubert 
His government was, however, very much concerned to find out 
whether or not Germany had already at Locarno declared herself 
ready to give French troops the right of passage in case of necessity 
^Vhereupon Stresemann told the Russians that he resented their voic 
mg doubts concerning Ins truthfulness Despite sucli protests, Iz 
vesU-ya continued ns campaign Soviet public opinion,” the paper 
said in Its March 17, 1927, number, ‘ still has not been given a reply 
concerning the obligations Germany incurred at Locarno with regard 
to die right ol French troops to pass through Gcrznsny ’ Thepedemics 
continued well into the following month even though, from Strese- 
tnann on down, we did our utmost to dispel tlie unwarranted fears 
Litvinov kept voicing To this day I still wonder what real purpose 
tvas hidden behind the Excelsior afl^ir 



134 "The Incompatible Allies 

In early April. 1925, the ambassador was asked by Stresemann to 
inform the Soviet government of the negotiations between Germany 
and the Entente pc»v.eTS about the conclusion o£ a guarantee pact 
which %vas actually signed later at Locarno Chicherin and Litvinov 
became excited to die point of bitterness They asserted that Germany, 
with malicious duplicity, had already made up her mind and v%as con 
fronting the Soviet government widi a fait accompli Assured that the 
negotiations were still going on, they roundly asserted that Gennany s 
entry into the League would mean the end of the Rapallo relation 
ship Germany may have all good will toward Soviet Russia, Chicherin 
said at the Soviet Congress on May 16, 1925, but once she has joined 
her former enemies at Geneva she will he prevented from continuing 
her present relations with Russia * The logic of things is stronger 
than any subjective intentions, and there can be no doubt that after 
entering the League of Nations, that is, after submitting to the com 
mand of the Western imperialist powers, Gennany will sooner or 
later — probably sooner — become a helpless plaything in their bands 
and wiU be forced to execute their wishes e\€n when these wishes 
are directly contrary co Germanys urgent interests It goes without 
saying tliat for the Soviet Union Germanys choice of a definitely 
Western orientation and entry into the League of Nations can ob 
jectively lead only to the deterioration of relauons between Gennany 
and the Soviet Republic • These words sound as i£ Chicherin had 
dictated them to tlie Izvestiya editor 

In his dispatches to Berlin, Ranuau echoed or even anticipated 
this reaction German entry into the League, he wrote, would be an 
unbearable burden to the Rapallo relationship and would completely 
frustrate its further development Moreover, any attempt to convince 
the Russians to the contrary would be hopeless from the beginning 

Stresemann s reply dismissed tins point of view Instead of saying 
either West or East, Germany should do her utmost to avoid such an 
alternative And if Chicherin remained adamant, he wrote to Rant 
zau, that would only show his intention to isolate Germany and m 
crease the tensions in her relationship with the Western poivers 
Germany, by negotiating with the League, wants nothing more than 
to find a formula whidi would prevent the possibility of a conflict 
with Soviet Russia, if anything was going to make continued good 

» Vuri Sietlov in Jzvestiya, May 24, 1925 



The Rapallo Era 135 

relations beii'.een the two nations impossible, he concluded, it would 
only be the Kremlm’s suspiaons and distrust 
Anticipating this reaction, Rantzau had bombarded the foreign 
mimster with urgent requests lo postpone any discussion of the deli 
cate topic witli the Russians for the time being Overruled, he made 
an honest eSort to shake them out of their intransigence, and many 
da)s were spent in acrimonious debate As svas often the case, he 
entered the debate halfheartedly, himself unconvinced of his argu 
ments The reason tiiat he talked to the Russians at all was not to 
convince them — diat, he thought would be impossible — but only to 
avoid a sudden rupture of relations and to find out whether the Soviet 
Union still thought it possible to make counter proposals 

On April 10, 1925, Rantzau departed for Berlin to argue his point of 
view personally He staged for almost three months this incidentally 
led to a further disturbance of his relationship to von Schubert, who 
svas said to have made critical remarks to others about Rantzau s long 
absence from hi$ post When the count returned to Moscow at the 
end of June, he was accompanied by Herbert von Dirksen, the then 
head of the Eastern Department in the German Foreign Office, who 
was to revive the negotiations about the important economic treaty, 
which had come to a dead stop (We shall discuss the treaty in the 
next chapter ) But German-Soviet relations were once again at a very 
low ebb and the Rapallo relationship was shaken to its very founda 
tions Moscow s suspicions had never been so aroused, and conse 
quently Soviet stubbornness was at an unprecedented high In July 
von Dirksen returned to Berlin without having reached any further 
agreement on the economic treaty Rantzau had wanted to pursue 
negotiations concerning a political pact designed to elaborate and 
confirm the Treaty of Rapallo Discussions of such a pact had begun 
in great secrecy in December, 1924 Now these too bogged down 
hopelessly Relations were furtlier a^jravated by the show trial the 
Russians staged against two German students, during which the 
Soviet prosecutor accused me — and by implication the embassy- — of 
having taken part in an alleged plot to poison Stalin and Trotsky 
Toward the end of September Chrdierrn departed fora lengthy say 
in German health resorts His departure became the occasion for a 
grand ceremony at the railroad station, where a large honor guard of 
troops and the entire diplomatic corps had come to bid him farew ell 



136 The Incompatible Allies 

On such trips Chichenn always used to combine business with the 
care o£ his health This time he vrould, upon his arrival in Betlin. 
exert the whole pressure of his personality to swing the German 
government away from its Western orientation As a matter of fact, 
the very trav el route he had chosen acquired diplomatic significance 
Instead of going straight to Berlin, as was his custom, Chichenn 
stopped over in Warsaw, with the obvious intention of playmg out 
the Trench Polish card against Gemtany The world press reacted 
%vith a stir, but we in the embassy vverc not unduly alarmed \Vc 
thought — and, I believe, correctly — that Chichenn was blufl5ng Par 
ticularly Rantzau was convinced of Chicherin's loyalty, and, m his 
dispatches to Berlin, he urged that Chichenn be given a most spec 
tacular and cordial welcome 

While the foreign commissar was nursing his health in Wiesbaden, 
the last disagreements over the economic treaty were ironed out by 
mutual concessions and the voluminous and complex document was 
signed on October 12, 1925 At this time the German government 
was already actively engaged jn negotiations at Locarno, and soon 
afterward the Locarno Pact, guaranteeing Germany’s Western bound 
anes adjoining Belgium and France, was signed In January, 1926, 
Germany made formal application for admission to the League oi 
Nations 

In the Soviet Union, Locarno was seen as a, pact of European capi 
tahsm directed against Russia, because no guarantees had been made 
for the maintenance of the border settlement m the East, thus giving 
Germany a free hand there at least by default Austen Chamberlain s 
words that “Locarno was only a begmmtig were quoted in the Soviet 
press and given ominous interpretations Wliether the deductions 
were correct or not, it is easy to understand the apprehension the 
pact produced m Moscow No one, however, reacted with greater 
sharpness than the German ambassador He had not often made use 
of the privilege of reporting directly to the Reich President, which 
he had obtained as one of the conditions for accepting his post but 
this lime he took advantage ol it Early m November he wrote a 
memorandum to von Hmdenburg — a carbon copy going to Slrese- 
mann — m which he summed up his views on the latter s policies 
Our relations to Russia, he warned, were going to be changed funda 
mentally Whatever our real intenaons, he said, Moscow interpreted 
our policy as being a rapprochement with the West By thus antagon 



137 


The Rapallo Era 

izing Sovie t Ru$sia, Germany was throwing away the last trump card 
she held against the Allies He, Rantzau, could not identify himself 
ivith such a policy, and ivas therefore sery seriously considering re 
signing from his post Later that month tlie count ivent to Germany 
and requested an intervien with the President Puring the interview 
he complained very bitterly that he had not been consulted properly 
during the negotiations leading to Locarno Now that the pact had 
been approved by the Reichstag, the conditions under whicJi he had 
accepted his post in Moscow had vanished and he formally tended 
his resignation The old field marshal persuaded him to stay If you 
go now, he argued (most probably briefed by Stresemann) you will 
give the Russians additional indications of fundamental changes in 
Germany s policy After all, the task now is to reassure them, and 
nothing would accomplish this more than your return to Moscow 
The two men also discussed Ranuaus privilege of out of channel 
communication with the President Stresemann had complained that 
the count was trying to sabotage the cabinet s policies by the use of 
this unconstitutional right The foreign minister and his ambassador 
vv ere now fighting it out through the person of the head of the state 
Von Hindenburg tried to conciliate by suggesting that Rantzau at 
least let the foreign minister know when he v^as going over his head 
In any event, no further use was made of the privilege But the re 
lations between Stresemann and Rantzau became rather strained 
The ambassador never overcame the feeling that he had been in 
sufficiently consulted and informed during the crucial negotiations, 
and Stresemann could not help resenting Rantzau s special position 

2 THE CASE AGAINST KINDERAfANN AND 
WOLSCHT 

IWiether or not it was due to Rantzau s complaints Berlin now 
decided that a political act was desirable which would balance out 
Germany s commitments in the West and simultaneously reaffirm and 
redefine her relations to So%iet Russia Such an act should not so 
much be a gesture of independence from the \Vest as, rather, a token 
of continued good will toward the big neighbor in the East, This de 
cision coincided with an oft voiced suggestion of Moscow, or at least 
met it halfway 

As early as December, 1924, the Russians had made attempts to 



138 The Incompatible Allies 

renew the Treaty of Rapallo in all its original significance, or, if that 
was not possible, at least to neutralize Stresemann's policy of fulfill 
ment Chichenn had at that lime proposed to conclude a formal treaty 
of neutrality, or at least to sign a declaration of neutrality in the 
form of a protocol Such a treaty or declaration should contain the 
mutual obligation to refrain from joining any economic, political, 
or military combination directed against the other partner * The 
dangers from which Chichenn wished to protect his country were 
not only the threat contained in Articles 16 and 17 of the League 
Covenant but also the oft debated formation of an international 
creditors association to press the question of the old tsarist debts 
and organize other economic campaigns — specters which continually 
haunted his imagination 

Berlin, was very hesitant to sign such a declaration, roamly because 
Stresemann did not wish to let any semblance of duplicity jeopardize 
his policy of fulfillment The Russians were told that loyal co- 
operation within the League on the part o! Germany was by no 
titeatu irreconcilable with, continued German Soviet friendship Ar 
tide 16 and the obligation to partiapate m sanctions were played 
down as much as possible Finally, to provide a concrete alternative 
for Chichenn s neutrality treaty, Germany made a counter proposal 
in the form of a preamble to a treaty This draft preamble demanded 
that Germany and Soviet Russia should remain in "continued friendly 
consultation ’ and should “strive for mutual agreement' on all po- 
litical questions Those vague words, in the opiruon of the Wilhelm 
scrasse, constituted the most to which Germany could commit her 
self but Berlin affirmed that they ought to give complete satisfaction 
to the Soviet desire for security 

Before negotiations to iron out these two widely diverging con 
ceptions could get very far, the German Soviet association was sen 
ously strained by an incident which illustrates many critical problems 
of their relationship 

In the night from October 26 to 27, 1924, agents of the GPU had 
entered a Soviet student home m Moscow and arrested two German 
students, recently arrived, under affcged suspicion of espionage 
Their names were Karl Kindermaim and Theodor Wolscht In any 
other country the little incident would have been investigated 

‘“You keep away from England and well keep away from France, he said to 
Stresemann 



139 


The Rapallo Era 

quickly by the German consular staff m co-operation ^vith the other 
country's police, and, after a brief interlude, it would have ended 
to mutual satisfaction by die deportation of the men arrested Not so 
m Soviet Russia First of all, none of our efforts to find out something 
about the further fate of Kindermann and Wolscht were successful 
But on June 19, 1925, almost eight months after the arrest, a virtual 
bombshell exploded The entire Soviet press published a state prose 
cutor’s accusation against the two, alleging that they had been sent 
to Soviet Russia by the undei^round fascist terror organization 
whose members had plotted the murder of Walther Rathenau, one 
of their plans, the prosecutor's brief went on, had been to poison 
Stalin and Trotsky with cyanide of potassium The appearance of 
the students in Soviet Russia had been accomplished with the con 
nivance of German government circles, or persons formerly con 
nected with the government More specificafly, 1 vvas accused of 
having given assistance and advice to Kindermann and Wolscht AU 
of this vvas a fabric of lies 

lhad, indeed, met the two young men on my return trip to Moscow 
after a furlough in Germany At that time, in October, 192^, the 
number of foreigners traveling to Moscow was still so small that the 
only means of transportation available was the official Soviet courier 
car which went from Riga to Moscow three times a week to accom 
modate diplomauc couriers and other officials The two Germans 
told me that they intended to travel through the Soviet Union as far 
as Central Asia and Cape Chelyuskin To finance their trip they had 
engaged themselves as traveling agents for a German machine factory 
Their entire plan was fantastic and impossible to carry out I called 
their attention to the fact that Central Asia v\as forbidden territory 
for foreigners, that a trip to Cape Chelyuskin, situated beyond the 
Arctic Circle, would be an CAtremely difficult and costly expedition, 
and that Soviet laws concerning the foreign trade monopoly provided 
stiff penalties for anyone representing the interests of foreign firms 
Without proper permission 

The young men would not let me convince them ^Vtth a frivolous 
cfeviJuraycam aformfe and poenfe stcrfrfRjnrrness- the}- persisted la 
their claim that everything had been carefully planned and prepared 
In actual fact, their preparations oiuld not have been more miser- 
able — nor more harmless This was shown by the state of their 
luggage alone, into which 1 looked during the customs inspection I 



140 Tbt Incompatible Allies 

made them promise to report to me at the embassy soon after their 
arrival m Moscow, and I resolved to tvarn them sharply against care 
less actions For this purpose 1 handed them my calling card, and 
wrote my address and phone number down on it 

As soon as I learned about their arrest, I got in touch with the 
Foreign Commissariat in order to get them released and deported 
Victor Kopp, who had meanwhile been made a member of the 
kollegta of the caramissanat, proved to be a reasonable partner m 
negotiations, he was obviously ready to believe my story and he 
promised to exert his influence with the GPU In tune, however, the 
attitude of the Foreign Commissariat stiffened markedly, although I 
was unable to recognize the cause When m December, 1924, Count 
Brockdorff Rantzau personally appealed lo Chicherm on the ground 
that I had found Kindermann and Wolscht to be puerile but harm 
less adventurers, the foreign commissar replied that my judgment 
of people must in this case have deserted me, since a bad been found 
meanwhile that the two students were not innocuous youths, but 
hardened criminals who had entered the Soviet Union in order to 
do it serious harm 

Chicherm 8 words mystified us We were unaware that a trial was 
being prepared in Germany, in which a dangerous emissary of the 
Comintern was to be brought lo judgroeni The trial began m Feb- 
ruary, 1925, before the Sute Court for the Protection of the Re 
public, one of the chambers of the German Supreme Court, in Leip- 
zig The Cheka case ” as it was colloquially called, revealed the 
existence in Germany of a terrorist organization sponsored by Comm 
tern headquarters Its leader, and the principal defendant m the 
trial, was a Russian named Skoblevsky Petr Aleksandrovich Skoblev 
sky, bom on June 16, 1890, in Tambov, had been assigned to the 
German Communist party in 1923 to help prepare the armed up 
rising planned for October of that year As ‘military ’ advisor to 
the KPD, he gave orders, in November, 1923, to set up a German 
“Cheka’ for the purpose of liquidating stool pigeons and other 
dangerous persons This * Cheka, was nothing more not less than 
a murder gang It actually killed one alleged spy (a hairdresser named 
Rauch) five other assassinations never got beyond tlie planning stage 
The list of intended victims included not only a renegade Communist 
but also General von Seecfct and the mdustnal tycoons Conrad von 
Borsig and Hugo Stmnes Both in Russia and Germany the trial 



141 


The Rapallo Era 

aeated excitement, even though the German Foreign Ministry re 
peatedly tried to exert its influence on the press so as to tone doivn 
their comments and avoid a serious cooling o£ German Soviet rela- 
tions After all, Skoblevsky’s activities were a tiling of the past, and 
the Wilhelmstrasse did not believe that stimng up the memory of 
1923 would benefit the conduct ot Germany’s foreign policy 
To the Kremlin’s great indignation, the trial revealed some rela 
tions between Skoblevsky’s group and the Soviet Embassy m Berlin 
At least the Soviet counselor of embassy. Bratman Brodovsky, appears 
to have been informed about their activities When this was brought 
out during the trial, Litvinov approached us with the proposition that 
any mention of the Soviet Embassy be deleted from the verdict He 
was seeking to safeguard Russia’s international prestige and to pre 
serve the myth that the internauonal Communist movement had 
nothing whatsoever to do with the Soviet suie As it happened, the 
German Foreign Ministry in 1925 had no constitutional means of 
influencing the judiciary, quite apart from the question whether 
they would have heeded the Soviet request In any event, the verdict 
handed down on April 22nd clearly implicated the Soviet Embassy 
Skoblevsky was sentenced to death 
The kindermann Wolscht affair was artificially constructed for 
the purpose of creating a direct counterpart to the Cheka case This 
was shown particularly by the fact that h as well as the German 
Embassy, was implicated and coroproimsed, so that the score would 
now be even The two hapless Germans were clearly intended to 
serve as objects of exchange for Skoblevsky and his aides 
The reasons for which the Soviet Union created sudi a scandalous 
affair v\ ere thus not hard to find, and yet it is difficult to understand 
why they were considered important enough to jeopardize long range 
German Soviet relations hfy own consternation over the way in 
which I had been made the object of Soviet vengeance was all the 
greater since nothing had until then indicated that \ was to be 
victimized in such fashion Just one day before tlie bill of indictment 
was published, the Foreign Commissariat had remembered that ex 
actfy five years had passeef since I had b^vrn my activity in ftfos'cow, 
and the chief of the German Division, Boris Stein, had visited me 
to bring his own and Chicberm’s personal felicitations. As token of 
his government s appreaauon, he handed me a large volume on the 
history of the Soviet Republic during the first five years of its exist 



142 The Incompatible Allies 

ence Yet it is "beyond doubt that the NKID was not only well infonned 
about the accusations to be published on the following day but had 
also taken a very acme part in elaborating the plans for the trial 

The proceedings were opiened on the 25th of June, and the play 
they were given, as well as the rank of the persons conducting them, 
indicated the importance which the Soviet government attributed 
to Skoblevsky and hence to the Kindermann Wolscht affair The pre- 
siding judge was the same man who some ten years later was to pre 
side over the show trials of the most prominent Old Bolsheviks 
N V Krylenko acted as prosecutor Endowed with unusual oratorical 
gifts and filled with venom against the bourgeois order, he had been 
an obscure cadet in 1917 when Lenin appointed him to be the first 
Bolshevik commander m chief of Russia s armed forces In 1922 he 
became deputy people’s commissar of justice Now, as public prose 
cutor, he rode roughshod o>er my diplomatic immunity m a manner 
unprecedented in diplomatic history The accusation containing tny 
name was scattered throughout the country in millions of copies, and 
during the trial the prosecutor made the accused repeat orally all 
the false confessions and allegations that had been squeezed out of 
them during the pretrial investigation, so that my name once more 
appeared in the press 

In order to clear me of the accusations, the German Embassy im 
mediately demanded that I be called to the witness stand to present 
my own version of the story, but the Soviet government declined and 
continued to publish the damaging allegations about me Only when 
Rantzau, after his return from Germany, lodged a sharp demarche 
with Chicherm and threatened to leave Moscow, did my name cease 
to be mentioned in the press Before that. I had unthsiood the tempta 
tion of watching the trial, in order to avoid unnecessary complica 
tions Now I took one of the admission tickets given to the embassy 
for the duration of the trial, and entered the courtroom ® 

I have neter been able to overcome all the bitterness and indigna 
tion these weeks caused me I have always thought that the state ought 
not to abuse judicial proceeding for political purposes, and I could 
never draw the line between personal and political relationships In 
this I differed from the Soviet politicians for whom it was still very 

° The GPU called my appeatance at tfae Inal a provocation and requested 
the Foreign Commissariat to protest sharply to the Geman ambassador 



143 


The Rapallo Era 

easy at the time to make the separation Shortly after the start of the 
trial, I saw Boris Stem again We had both gone to the railroad station 
to greet Count Rantzau, arriving from Berlin With all lus customary 
cordiality. Stem, who had paid me such a pleasant visit a few dajs 
before, came up to greet me, and he was quite obviously taken aback 
when I studiously turned away to asoid him At that moment, he 
later confided m me, he had felt like rushing to meet me and to shake 
both of my hands, had I not so obviously cold shouldered him This 
confession was made in the course of a friendly conversation we had 
about the trial, during which 1 tried in vain to show him the dastardly 
breach of faith his government had commuted m accusing me But 
he insisted that the entire affair had been a matter a sheer political 
expediency, with no personal insult intended The same idea was 
expressed more cynically by Radek, to whom Louis Fischer voiced 
his astonishment over the Soviet attitude toward me "%Vhat of it? 
he grinned ‘ When we do filthy political things like that, it’s always 
things that matter, not persons Doesn t HiJger know that?” 

What Chichenn himself really thought is not quite so easy to 
determine After his return to Moscow, Ranuau asked him why the 
Soviet government picked me as a scapegoat, even though they ought 
to be fully aware of my positive atutude toward German Soviet 
friendship ' Well, ' said Chichenn. Vvagging his head, "the GPU is 
of the opinion that Mr Htlger is especially dangerous because he has 
learned how to win the good faith of our men by hiding under the 
mask of a really honest man Perhaps this reply only expressed die 
power of the GPU over the Foreign ^ramissariat 

Apart from the personal shock it dealt me the crudeness of the 
grotesque affair might have been cause for laughter had it not led to 
some ominous political conclusions We had to ask ourselves whether 
the influence of the GPU over the conduct of foreign affairs was 
really so strong as to jeopardize Soviet foreign policy In that case 
serious negotiations with the Soviet state were from the very start 
condemned to failure If, however, the Kindermann IV'oIscht maneu 
ver represented Soviet policy as a whole, and not just GPU inter 

could one deal profitably with a state that shamelessly used extortion 
to avenge an embarrassment? We asked Chichenn these questions 
but received only evasive replies What kind of trump card was the 



H4 The Incompatible Alltes 

alliance with a government which indulged in such unsavory prac 
tvces? Could German, prestige allow political relations with that 
country to continue? 

Even while he neighed these ominous considerations, the German 
ambassador attempted to bring the alEair to a satisfactory conclusion, 
not only to rescue and revive Soviet German relations but also to 
allay the clamor of criticism at home, which was the most vociferous 
among the moderate Lefust parties, who were attacking the govern 
ment for taking such insults from Moscow Rantzau resolved to be 
extremely sharp and indignant m his talks with Chicherm, and to 
demand the immediate cessation of the accusations against me 
Should his step be unsuccessful, he was resolved to carry the conflict 
into the open, and in that case the serious considerations discussed 
above would enter, a diplomatic break would loom on the horizon 
His determined stand showed some results We had feared that two 
German witnesses involved in the case might be arrested at any 
moment, when Rantzau warned that this would lead to a break, Mos 
cow had them deported instead of thrown into jail More important, 
the verdict handed down on July 1925. did not mention my name 
Rindermann and Wolscht, however, vvere condemned to death * 

That ended the matter for the Russians They thought German 
indignation would now simmer down, and exp»ccied that out political 
and economic negotiations would be resumed Skoblevsky and his 
men would, in due time, be exchanged for the German students, and 
the mutual eiabarrassments would cancel each other Hence Chicherm 
was full of good spirit and expectancy when he received the German 
ambassador three days after the end of the trial He was painfully 
surprised when Rantzau began theconvecsaiion with a sharp demand 
that the sentence be abrogated and that the Soviet government openly 
exonerate the embassy and myself Otherwise all negotiations would 
be broken off At that point Chicherm frankly revealed the real 
reason behind the Kindermann Wolscht trial "After all, ' he said 
with imtation and truculence, * your government never fulfilled our 
request to exonerate the Soviet Embassy m a press communique' 
(a request, by the way, which the Russians had never made) He 

«The sentence s»as neier carried out Instead Kindermann Wolscht and a 
uumhei o£ othei Germans who had 1 een arrested on trumped up charges vsere 
exchanged in 1926 against Skoblevsky whose death sentence had also been corn 
muted 




il irtiiy 





145 


The Rapallo Era 

called Rantzaus statement an ultimatum which it was a matter of 
Soviet prestige to refuse, but finally promised to clear up the matter 
if Germany would continue with the economic and political treaty 
discussions 

The form in ivhich I was to be exonerated ivas discussed in long 
and bitter negotiations, during which Chichcnn tried to link his 
concessions with some we should make in economic matters Berlin 
countered with tlireats of recalling the ambassador, and also senously 
considered requesting krestmskys recall from Berlin Rantzau him 
self was more than once ready to pack up and go A compromise t^as 
finally reached Since the NKID categorically refused to take the 
initiative of publishing a denial of all die accusations against me, 
Jxvesliya, on August 8, 1925, printed a German declaration to the 
Foreign Commissariat in which my story was told in its essenuals A 
short paragraph follow ed 

In publishing the declaration of the German Embassy the NKID notes 
that Ckiumelor of Legation Hilger was not menuoned m the verdict On 
the basis of negouations held since both govemmenu regard the matter 
as dosed 

3 THE TREATY OF BERUN 

After the communique m Izvesttya had cleared my name to the 
satisfaction of both governments, the negouations conccramg a po- 
litical treaty could be resumed On July I8th Chicherin gave to 
Brockdorff Rantrau a new preamble he had drafted It amounted to 
a formal declaration of neutrality and included a sentence which 
would have prevented Germany from joining the League without 
Soviet consent All this was unacceptable to Berlin At that time 
Germany had not yet been freed from the provisions of Article 16, 
so that she could not have signed a declaration of neutrality, nor 
could she allow her way into the League to be blocked by a Soviet 
veto The impression was that Russia was less interested in Germany s 
good will to collaborate than m compromising Germajiy in the ^Vest 
Chicherin insisted that the new preamble be published, which would 
have created the impression that Germany really did not want to 
jom the League at all Clearly, the Russians aimed to retain a 
monopoly on friendly relations with Germany, while Scresemann al 
ready thought that die mere fact that negotiauons with Moscow 



146 


The Incompatible Allies 

were running parallel with the talks at Locarno was a great con 
cession He had no desire to opt for one or the other partner, and 
he was very disappointed that Moscow would not understand his 
position 

Locarno finally convinced the Russians that they had lost their 
game Germany would never exdusively rely on her friendship with 
the Soviet Union in her attempts at recovery At the same time the 
pact intensified their efforts to balance out the settlement m the 
West with a treaty of neutrality, thus taking the eastward sting out 
of Locarno What type of treaty they had in mmd became clear m 
December when during his stay in Paris Chichenn signed a treaty with 
the Turkish ambassador (December 12 1925) providmgforneutrahty 
in case of military action, and incorporating a non aggression promise 
Both countries also agreed not to participate m any political, eco- 
nomic, or financial combinations military or naval conventions, or 
hostile acts of any kind directed against the other partner In a 
protocol appended to the treaty both partners reserved their freedom 
of action in every other respect 

A few days later Chichenn arrived in Berlin where he stajed for 
about two weeks for intensive discussions with leading political 
personalities but without achieving any real agreement The matter 
had by now boiled down to this Chichenn insisted that his goiern 
ment needed the guarantee furnished by a formal treaty of neutrality, 
and held that the freedom from Article 16 which the Allies had 
granted Germany automatically permuted her to conclude such a 
treaty, whereas Stresemann wanted to know why a formal declaration 
of neutrality was still necessary after the note from the League 
powers Thus the differences had been reduced mainly to formal 
considerations Stresemann being wary of a spectacular document 
with all its international repercussions But the Foreign Ministry 
now felt pressure not only from the Soviet side but also from tlie 
Reichstag where the opinion was expressed overwhelmingly that 
Locarno must by no means lead to a disturbance of Germany s re- 
lations with Russia 

Toward the end of February 1926 the cabinet ended its hesitation 
and decided to propose a formal treaty to the Soviet Union The 
draft Berlin sent us consisted of four short paragraphs and an ap- 
pended protocol According to Article 1, the Treaty of Rapallo would 



147 


The Rapallo Era 

remain the basis of German Soviet relauons, both governments ivere 
to remain in friendly contact concermng all problems touching their 
relationship Article 2 called for neutrality in case o£ unprovoked 
aggression on one of the partners by a third power In Article 3 the 
partners promised not to join any sort of coalition or economic cam 
paign directed against the other partner The last Article concerned 
ratification and duration of the treaty 

The appended protocol took the form of a German note to the 
Sonet government in ivhich it na$ stated that both go\eTnmsnts con 
sidered the treaty to be an essential contribution to w orld peace Both 
governments, the note conunued, had discussed Germany s plan to 
join the League of Nauons, and the German government expressed 
Its conviction that to do so would not jeopardue good relations be> 
tween itself and Soviet Russia Should the League develop tendencies 
toward an anu Soviet policy, then Germany would use her inSuence 
to counteract them This, the note concluded, would not contradict 
the provisions of Articles 16 and 17, smee these provided for sanctions 
against Soviet Russia only m the event of Soviet aggression, and in 
deciding whether or not the Soviet Union was an aggressor Germany 
would have veto power, so that she could not be forced against her 
will to participate in sanctions 

As formulated, the proposed treaty consututed a major concession 
to the Soviet demands Heretofore, Berlin had steadfastly rejected 
the idea of a formal treaty, the present version corresponded much 
more to Chicherin's initial suggestions In presenting the draft to 
the Foreign Commissariat, we made clear that Germany would sign 
the treaty only after the next session in Geneva should have decided 
the question of Germany’s admission to the League To conclude the 
treaty before that time would create the impression that Germany 
considered her admission an accomplished fact, which in turn would 
deprive her of a strong means with which to press her fight for a 
Council seat in the League 

Early in 1926, quite contrary to Stresemann’s expectations, the 
League rejected Germany s application for membership It has been 
argued by competent writers, among them Lord DAbemon, that 
this grave rebuff ‘caused Gennan public opinion and the leaders 
of the German nation to turn their gaze once more eastward,” and 
that ‘ M Tchitcherm and the Soviet Foreign Office should once more 



148 The Incompatible Allies 

seize upon German disappointment . , to insinuate the benefits of 
increased and more intimate Russo German co-operalion " ' It ought 
to be clear to the reader that this explanation o£ the Berlin Treaty 
(as It came to be called) is not correct The treaty was no sponuneous 
reaction to Sttesemann's disappomuaent in the West, on the c3ti 
trary, it had been intended as a device to balance out the successes of 
German foreign policy in the West, both those achieved and those 
still being expected Of course, after the League powers had shut the 
door in the face of the Germans, it was inevitable that the treaty 
which was concluded a few weeks afterward should be given a more 
ominous interpretation than it deserved 

Shortly before the treaty was actually concluded, a number of 
disturbing incidents once more poisoned the atmosphere of German 
Soviet relations and delayed the final treaty negotiations by another 
few weeks Throughout the early months of 1926, arrests of German 
citizens in the Soviet Union had mounted sufficiently to alarm the 
Foreign Ministry in Berlin Moreover, in January, Soviet offiaah 
had opened a package addressed to the embassy and mailed m Ttilis 
by a German citizen they had removed a number of documenu from 
die package and replaced them by a Bible, m an obvious attempt to 
make fun of the embassy 

This rifling o! mail from Tifiis was probably connected wiih an 
even more serious incident that had occurred on December 13, 1925 
Consular agents ' of the Reich m three Caucasian cities, Baku, Poti, 
andBatum were arrested by the Chekaand accused of espionage The 
Baku office, which also served as the agent's residence, was sealed and 
put under guard All three men were taken to the Cheka jail m 
Tiflis Their official mail was confiscated, their official seals were 
broken 

These gentlemen. Schmitz, Cornehlsen, and Eck, were German 
businessmen who bad been living m Transcaucasia for quite a num 
ber of years, and who had for a long time carried out the functions 
of honorary consular officials As sudi, they had been duly reported 
to the Soviet government by the embassy in 1923, but Moscow had 
never officially recognized them Nor had the consular treaty of 
October 12, 1925, provided for ' consular agents ” Because the Soviet 

^ Lord D Abemon An Ambassador of Peace (Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd London, 
1920-1930) ill 245 



The Rapallo Era 149 

government wanted to get nd of them, all three were arrested under 
the customary suspi cion of espionage 

The usual rounds of protests and denials followed Finally Chi 
cherin asserted that conclusive evidence existed against the alleged 
spies, and he declared his willingness to g»\ e Rantzau access to the 
GPU dossiers on them ' Let’s go together," the ambassador urged 
me ‘ I can t read tliat crap by myself, anyway " So we both went to 
the Foreign Commissariat and Chichenn gave us CPU files in ivhich 
the places concerning the “consular agents” had been marked for 
our convenience The material contained allegations that the men 
now under arrest had conducted espionage work of all kinds and 
made reports concerning their activities to the consulate general in 
Tiflis As I read the statements bn by bit, Rantzau soon became 
bored and started a political conversation with Chichenn I used the 
opportunity for the purpose of leafing through the entire file, on 
sev eral of the documents I saw my own name, and made the surprising 
discovery that the CPU suspected me, too. and other members of 
the embassy, of having engaged in espionage work in Transcaucasia 
For instance, I read that as early as 1921 I had sent an emissary to 
Tifiis to gather mformauon about a suategiically important bridge 
over the Rura River These and all the other sta tements were ridicu 
lous lies 1 did not know anything about such a bridge, nor had 1 
ever given such an order The official whom 1 had sent to Trans- 
caucasia had gone on the perfectly legal mission of caring for the 
German prisoners of war still in captivity there Suddenly Chichenn 
looked up and saw me leafing through the CPU files Hurriedly, he 
requested them back. 

Comehlsen, Schmitz, and Eck were later deported to Germany, 
which ended the matter But while the affair was in its acute stages. 
It had a curious effect on the embassy On the one hand, our 
indignation was aroused, and our sense of nauonal prestige violated 
In an effort to force the Russians to make amends, our negotiators 
stopped all talks about the pohucai treaty we had planned to con 
dude, saying that negotiauons would be resumed only after the 
incident was settled to the satisfaction of the Reich government On 
the other hand, some of the same officials who made threatening 
gestures toward the Soviet side were in almost panicky fear that the 
treaty talks might actually founder on the rock of such disturbances. 



150 The Incompatible Allies 

Rantzau, who once again talked about packing lus bags, at the same 
tune made an almost inhuman effort to avoid an open clash 

One difficulty still remained to be overcome before the treaty could 
be concluded Early in April the Foreign Comnussaxiat, which m 
general was satisfied with the draft, raised strong objections to one 
word m Article 2, which provided for neutrality m case of unpro- 
voked aggression on one of the partners by a third power The Rus 
sians objected to the insinuation, itnphed in the -word ‘ unprovoked, 
tliat they might provoke a third power to attack them Aciuallyi the 
wording of this clause was by no means unusual in neutrality treaties. 
It occurred even in the French Polish treaty of alliance Consequently, 
the alleged insinuation would be clear only to a government as 
sensitive and touchy in questions of international prestige as the 
Soviet state After lengthy and arduous bickering we finally proposed 
to replace the objectionable word by the phrase ’m spite of a peaceful 
altitude,’ declaring that no greater compromise could be made A 
few days later, on April 24 1926, the treaty was signed, not, as Rantzau 
had hoped, by Chicliertn and himself in Moscow, but in Berlin, by 
Stresemann and Krestinsky What he thought would be called the 
Rantzau Treaty therefore came to be known as tlie Berlin Treaty 
In spite of this disappointment, its conclusion marked the high 
point of the ambassadors career, for Germany s friendly relations 
to Russia had been maintained and even strengthened m spite of the 
policy of fulfillment Now the count was only too glad to admit that 
It would have been a mistake to resign after Locarno 

4 COUNT RANTZAU S "OTHER FRONT" 

The conclusion of the Berlin Treaty marks the cultaination of a 
period of remarkable friendship and collaboration between two 
countries very different in their history and aspirations The friend 
ship was all the more remarkable because no love was lost between 
the policy makers of the two states, it was a purely pragmatic arrange 
ment between two governments sharing a few problems and a few 
enemies in common And yet the Rapallo era — if we may thus call 
the years from 1922 to 192& — witnessed the extension, of fnendly 
relations into a variety of non political and non economic pursuits 
Vivid intellectual curiosity and cosmopolitan grasp of cultural affairs 
had not yet been stamped out in the higher reaches of the party, and 



151 


Tile Rapallo Era 

Germany ^vas regarded by many o[ the men in the Kremlin as an 
important cultural center with. Aihidi it would be advantageous for 
the new Soviet state to have dealmgs It tvas not that the Communist 
regime thought bourgeois Germany could offer any lessons or experi- 
ences in running society as a whole, but in the field of applied 
saences the Soviet rulers had a high respect for German achievements 
Hence, during those jears ii was primarily Germans to whom they 
turned when they v\ere in need of technical advice unobtainable in 
their ovvn country, whether the problem was in the field of ordnance, 
heavy construction, or forestry On a personal level this attitude was 
particularly striking in the field of medicine Chichenn went to 
Kantzau’s pliysiaan at Wiesbaden for treatment of his ailments, 
Trotsky went to a clinic in Berlin to find relief from his stomach 
troubles in the spring of 1926 (going incognito, by a special arrange 
ment with the German authorities which was very secretively handled 
by the embassy), and in his last months Lenin, too, had been treated 
by many eminent German physicians and surgeons Today, the 
presumptuous pride with whidi Soviet science announces its superi 
only over that of the West vtould make such visits quite impossible 
Though in the twenues personal relations between members of 
the German Embassy and Soviet officials were not only correct but 
even cordial, there was, of course, an inner core of party personnel 
completely inaccessible to foreigners, and the Soviet government 
gradually narrowed the number of officials authorized to deal with 
us to a very small number In the area of high political relations, 
there were a great number of tensions and confficts, we have men 
tioned some of them and we shall deal with many more However, 
the important thing to realize is that these conflicts were ironed out, 
even though m long dragged out negouations in which both parties 
drove stiff bargains. In spite of these tacucsof mutual extoruon, there 
prevailed an astonishing degree of trust and faithful collaborauon 
behind the scenes In demanding mutual consultation on all matters 
of common concern, the Treaty of Berlin did little more than state 
the actual habits of Berlin and Moscow During the entire Rapallo 
period close mutual consultation and exchange of information were 
practiced without any seriom breaches of faith on the part of either 
government It has been said that Lord D Abemon, the British am 
bassador in Berlin during those years, was in such close touch with 
Stresemann and von Schubert that he might well be called an un 



152 The Incompatible Allies 

official permanent consultant to the Foreign Ministry What is not 
so well known is the fact that Cbicherm, as well as Litvinov and 
Krestinsky, occupied a very similar status in the WiJhelmstrasse, 
very frequently the foreign minister and his permanent undersecre- 
tary would indulge in the frankest discussions about international 
politics with them But neither Chicherin’s nor Lord DAbernons 
position in Berlin could compare with that of Rantzau in Moscow, 
whose close personal friendship with the foreign commissar found 
its political expression in the frequent political discussions they would 
have deep into the night 

One might say that the Treaty of Berlin marks the culmination 
point of the Brockdorff Rantaau era in German Soviet relations. It 
was a decisive victory on one of the two fronts on which the count had 
been struggling all the time for it meant the neutralization of all 
eSorts in Berlin to guide German policy into a predominantly West 
ern orientation The treaty made sure that Berlin and Moscow would 
continue to hold hands even while Stresemann pursued the policy of 
fulfillment Henceforth it was the other front which required the 
ambassador s attention in an increasing measure 

^Vhen 1 speak of the second front of battle, I refer in part to the 
atmosphere created by the ideological onentanon of the Soviet rc 
gime But beyond that Rantzau and the policy makers in Berlin were 
perturbed by something which had nothing to do with the Cora 
munist ideas of Moscow There was a general lack of faith in the 
Kremlin, a belief that, w'haiever their revolutionary aspirations and 
plans the Soviet rulers were basically untrustworthy, plebeian usurp- 
ers whom an honest diplomat should not touch with a ten foot pole, 
vf he could help ii The specific fear whuh haunted the atubassadoT 
was that Soviet Russia might become dependent on the Entente 
powers This fear had been one of die reasons for concluding the 
Treaty of Rapallo and it remained ever present among the German 
diplomats around Rantzau who among themselves, would plaintively 
moralize about the latent ingratitude and disloyalty of the Soviet 
regime Since Moscow harbored equally strong suspicions of German 
duplicity the diplomats of both countries were constaniJy on the 
alert for signs of disloyalty constantly asking themselves who would 
be the first to sell the partner down the river by making a deal with 
Poland England or France In the spring of 1923 Rantzau had been 
very nervous about the possibility of a Soviet French deal at Gei 



153 


The Rapallo Era 
many’s e\pense, and he -was extremely annoyed over the splendid 
reception Moscow ga\ e in the summer of the same year to the French 
Senator de I^fonzie, ivho later embarLed on his crusade for de jure 
recognition of the Soviet government by France 

The year in ivhich the principal European countries entered into 
full diplomatic relations iviih the Bolshevik regime was 1924 The 
MacDonald government started the round in February, with Mus 
solini following a few days later Last to resume diplomatic relations 
was the French government, which waited until October When the 
Soviet press commented by talking about a new era of peace and 
understanding, Rantrau's suspicions were aroused once again The 
new French ambassador, Jean Herbeiie, arrived in Moscow in mid 
January, 1925 A well known financier, he had been connected with 
the conservauve daily Le Temps, which had supported Poincare in 
his Ruhr policies Two days after he was fonnally accredited to the 
Kremlin, Herbette paid a courtesy vuit to the count, but RanUau 
met lus concthacory phrases with unconcealed hostility and bitter 
references to the editorial policy of Le Temps Rantzau’s personal 
antagonism toward Herbette was later extended to the Polish am 
bassador Stamslaw Patek, and the Italian Gaetano Manzoni 

The emotional attitude Rantzau nursed against France made it 
impossible for him to respond to Chichenn s repeated proposals 
to attempt forming a continental bloc of the three great powers, 
Germany France, and Russia, jn which the Soviet regime would 
undertake to mediate between the two old antagonists Besides, any 
such scheme, which would have antagonued England, was out of the 
question for the German ambassador Nevertheless, he did not 
openly refuse to play along with the foreign commissars sclieme, it 
seemed to him a nice bit of diplomatic intrigue which might sene 
to neutralize France and at the same time raise the value of Ger- 
many s friendship in the eyes of London 

Late m 1925 Chichenn had been in Berlin, trying to dissuade 
Stresemann from entanglements that might be prepared for him at 
Locarno He had left Berlin very worried about the course of Strese 
mann’s policy of fulfillment, and his next stop was Pans In Berlin 
he had made it plain that he wanted to improve Soviet relations with 
France, obviously he feared that Locarno might tie Germany together 
VMth his own arch antagonist, England The trip to Paris must have 
been an attempt to place another iron m the fire 



154 The Incompatible Allies 

The foreign commissar also made a stopover in Warsaw, no doubt 
as a warning to Berlin that the antagonism between Poland and the 
Soviet Union was not unbridgeable Vet there was little possibility 
of a Soviet Polish rapprochement m those years Too many burning 
issues that had remained unsolved had created a well established 
tradition of hostility between the two countries, so that any German 
fears that the Kremlin might sell out to ^Varsaw were little less than 
hysterical * On the contrary, one might say tliat a common sharp 
hostility to the new Polish state was one of the most potent bonds 
between Berlin and Moscow, and another partition of Poland the 
silent maximal aim of both governments throughout the intcnvar 
period (The phrase that was used was, ‘ To push Poland back to 
her ethnographic frontiers') This maximal aira, was, however, sel 
dom mentioned, and it was not actively pursued between 1920 and 
1939 It was the less ambitious aim of neutralizing the Polish state 
on which Berlin and Moscow were in agreement throughout the 
Rantzau era 

In this connection both governments were concerned with mam 
taming the independence and integrity of Lithuania as a pawn that 
might be played out against Poland On September 23, 1926, the 
Soviet Union concluded a neutrality treaty with Lithuania which 
was modeled on die Soviet Turkish Treaty of December 12, 1925, 
but which contained an additional note m which the Soviet govern 
ment refused to recognize the Polish occupation of Vilna Over the 
Vilna question a near war between the two buffer states erupted in 
early 1927, and the constant consultation over the conflict between 
Berlin and Moscow demonstrates the close community of interests 
of the two countries in this regard But on June 7, 1927, the Soviet 
ambassador m Warsaw, Voikov, was assassinated by a white guardist 
emigre named Koverda and in its demands for retribution against 
the assassin and his accomplices Moscow made most excessive de 
mands 

sin the early days of March 1926- Cbichenn told Count Rantzau that his gov 
eminent would be ready to recognize Polands eastern boundar) as drawn in the 
Treaty o£ Riga as a price to be paid for ihe lumnaluaiion oi Polish Soviet *cla 
tions Such a normalization would have been an inauspicious prelude to the con 
elusion of the Berlin Treaty To our great relief the Russo Polish talks came to 
nought but not until after Rantzau had made clear that the conclusion of the 
German Soviet treaty and the maintenance of good relations between Berlin and 
Moscow depended on the abandonment of any intentions the Kremlin might 
have had to guarantee Poland ^ boundaries. 



155 


The Rapallo Era 

The German Foreign Ministry seems to have regarded a sharpen 
ing of the Soviet Polish conflict at that time as highly undesirable, 
according to the Vossische Zeitung of June 16th Chicherm \vas told 
that his uliimatums were roalong a very bad impression m Berlin 
Later that month the Foreign Commissariat is as buzzing ith indigna 
non over a speech Stresemann was alleged to have made in Geneva, 
in which he had declared himself ready to intervene on behalf of 
Poland in an effort to tone down hloscow s demands This, Cliichenn 
exclaimed to Rantzau meant that he had sided vvitli the Poles in the 
e)es of vvorid opinion Thus the fear of duplicity was by no means 
restricted to the German side 

But there was another aspect of the ‘ other front ’ which gave much 
greater concern to the Germans than to their Soviet partners I have 
in mind the never ending tendency of the Soviet regime to interfere in 
the internal affairs of the German state 

After the abortive uprising of October and November, 1925 the 
German Communist party (K.PD) spontaneously nd itself of lU hesi 
tant and cautious leaders whom it blamed for the failure of the revolt, 
and tooV. a decided step to the Left, a swing toward radicalism which 
raised Ruth Fischer to the position of party secretary Even though 
this radicalization of the K.PD was somewhat out of tune with the 
seemingly evolutionary course of development in Russia at that 
time, a number of influential Soviet personalities endorsed it with 
more or less enthusiasm and indulged in most inflammatory revolu 
tionary talks Some of this reached the ears of the embassy personnel 
by v\ay of rumor or informal reports We had indications that a 
number of prominent Comintern leaders vvere going to Germany 
every once in a while Karl RadeJc was one on v^hom. our attention 
Vvas naturally focused because he had been involved in previous 
revolutionary disturbances in Germany There was of course little 
Vte could do to prevent these trips which were always made in 
cognito, we could not even protest, because vve lacked definite 
proof 

1 once devised an easy way of finding out whether Radek had re 
cently been m Germany or not. All that was necessary was to invite 
him for lunch If he came wearing his characteristic beard, vve could 
be sure that he had not gone on an illegal trip abroad, but if he 
came clean shaved or with stubbles there could be only one reason 
why he had taken off his beard Without suspecting that he was being 



The Jncompaltble AUtes 
investigated Radek cleared himself this time by showing up in all 
the exotic splendor of his bushy beard 
Protests could be lodged, however, when Soviet officials openly 
came out in speech or print, with revolutionary messages directed 
specihcally to the German workers, or when they made remarks that 
might offend the German stale or damage German prestige Thus on 
the eve of general elections, in its November 27. 1924. number, the 
Communist Rote T ahne, official organ of the KPD, published a proc 
lamation by Stalin in which die German government was called a 
cram gang regime and the coming elections chain gang elections 
(Zuchthauswahlen) ' The German proletariat, the proclamation 
read will not speak its last word m the election -a dear call for 
revolt One month previously the same paper had published a mam 
festo of the ECCI (Executive Committee of the Communist Interna 
tional) signed by Zinovyev and Manuilsky which closed with the 
wor s, ong live the German revolution! Zinovyev had come out 
with similar inflammatory exhortations several times m the same 
year Each of these pronouncements elicited extremely sharp protests 
rom e Germans which the Foreign Commissariat inevitably dis 
missed with the remark that the Soviet state was not responsible for 
the pronouncements of the Communist party and the Communist 
International But after all Zinovyev, as mayor of Leningrad, and 
a in, as member of the Presidium of the Central Executive Com 
raittec. were officials of the Sovielgovemment 
The years 1925 and 1926 were years of retrenchment m the Com 
mumst International, or at least in the German Communist party, 
and there was a decided lull in this type of incident, if we forget the 
indignation that was caused by Voroshilov in February of 1926 when 
in IS speech on Red Army Day he hinted that Germany was once 
again rearming The offensive passage was quietly removed from the 
record by the Soviet authorities But m the following year Bukharm 
y^‘^cu5ed Germany of conniving in the Lithuanian fascist coup 
and other acts of duplicity and Rantzau was particularly annoyed 
y an Izvestiya editorial of March 25. 1927. in which Germany t.as 
r.F . responsible for the First World War In November 

rmh declared that the Russian Communists must 

Western brothers m the struggle against their op 
or the u ^ might spoil Russia s relations with one 

ther bourgeois government We knew, of course, that 



157 


The Rapallo Era 

Trotsky’s influence had sunk to nothing in the Soviet government 
by this time, and yet e\en after Trotsky had been sent into his 
Central Asian exile Rantzau was still quoting his statement in his 
dispatches to Berlin 

No incident, hoi\ e\ er, aroused more indignation and bitter wran- 
glmgs than the following In Nosember, 1927, the Soviet Union and 
world Communism celebrated the tenth anniversary of the October 
Revolution Among the many oiganiracions who met for the jubilee 
celebrations was the Interr^ational Congress of the Friends of the 
Soviet Union At this congress, held in Moscow on the l2tli. Voro- 
shilov said that 'the October Revolution is only the introduction to 
the greatest drama that has ever been enacted in the human arena. 
But we know,” he continued, "that the following acts of this drama 
are going to start soon “ Afterward Budenny, speaking in the name 
of the Revolutionary War Council, pinned the order of the Red 
Banner on a number of prominent French, German, and Hun 
garian Communists, expressing the hope that ‘ the blows of the pro- 
letariat will soon make the chains fall from our brothers languishing 
in capitalist prisons ‘ This was a broad reference to hfax Holz, a 
German Communist at that time in jail m his home country He was 
awarded the medal in absentia, and this honor, given to a man whom 
the German authorities regarded as a convicted felon, could not but 
be interpreted as a hostile deroonstrauon against our government 
Count Ranuau declared to Chichenn that he regarded it as a vicious 
provocation, and threatened to leave for Berlin if he were not given 
a satisfactory explanaUon The case was Anally settled when krestin 
sky gave the Foreign Ministry a statement declaring that the Red 
Army had awarded the order without consulting the government or 
the Foreign Commissariat, and (hat Max Holz had been honored 
only for his services against the French at the time of the inter 
vention in Russia, so that no hostile demonstration against the Ger 
man government had been intended The Foreign Minister acqui 
esced, but his ambassador m Moscow remained dissatisfled and 
blamed Stresemann for excessive softness in taking such an insult 
The latter and von Schubert argued that a strengthened and con- 
solidated German Republic could well aSord to shut an eye to 
Communist interference that only imcated, but presented no danger 
to, the existing political order, as long as really dangerous propaganda 
from Moscow was kept in chedt But Rantzau maintained a much 



158 The Incompattble Allies 

more alarmist position, and feJt himself betrayed by his superiors. 

On January 30, 1924, Kamenev had said in a speech before the 
Soviet Congress that the Soviet government could not look at the 
recent revolutionary events in Germany as a detached observer be 
cause the proletarian Soviet state was immediately affected by every 
struggle of the workers for liberty, moreover, a victory of German 
fascism and a resultant French invasion of Germany would also have 
led to profound changes in the international situation Given the 
ideological orientation of the Soviet regime, this was certainly a rea 
sonable statement, and the German government might have been 
wise to acknowledge the fact that Soviet Russia would always be 
interested in proletarian revolution everytvhere This would not 
have prevented the German police authorities from being as ruthless 
m their fight against domestic Communism as they wanted, and it 
would have obviated the silly and transparent pretenses in which 
both Berlin and hfoscow indulged But age old conceptions of diplo* 
matic etiquette and national sovereignty as well as the anti Cotntnu 
nist conscience of German government officials militated against 
such Irankness As we have seen the insistence on keeping Commu 
nist ideology out of Soviet foreign politics forced the Kremlin to 
pretend that there was no official connection at all between the 
Soviet state and the Comintern or the Soviet government and the 
Russian Communist party, which enabled them to claim that the 
Soviet government could not be held responsible for the acts and 
statements of party members 

At the same time Soviet officials were always insisting that other 
countries had no right to interfere in Russia s domestic affairs In 
effect, they told the outside world that it would only be good sense 
to acknowledge the Communist orientation of the regime, and that it 
would be interference in Russia s internal affairs not to acknowledge 
and accept this orientation Moreover, there were occasions when 
political realism and common sense broke tlirough the ideological 
rigidity of men like Chicherm and latvinov which aided the settle 
ment of disputes of this kind But the customary attitude m. inter 
ve.litsoiw an vTOi&Vence on sepaiating CoTatnvwwsro. frotn 
the Soviet government And just because the bourgeois governments 
in their relations with Moscow went through the motions of accept 
mg this pretense m all seriousness great indignation was aroused 
when the ideological nature of the regime expressed itself 



159 


The Rapallo Era 

There an ere, in spite o£ these considerations, good reasons for 
talking occasional outbursts seriously Difficulties arising out of tliem 
AN ere not only a matter of prestige and of keeping up a pretense, they 
Here at times quite useful as a means of extolling adiantages in all 
sorts of negouauons Political capital could be made of indiscreuons 
committed by the other side The difficulty, hoANeser, anos that tlie 
SoAiet negotiators shoANcd themselves smarter m the game of black- 
mail than the German diplomats, and more ruthless in fabricating 
suitable inadents, although they did not ahiays have to resort to 
fabncation, as the police raid on their trade delegation in Berlin 
shoANS 

In addition, indiscretions and outbursts, even when they A\ere 
unauthorized and a source of embarrassment to the Foreign Commis 
sanat, ANere nevertheless a useful barometer of opinion in the party, 
Avhich, after all, Aias guiding the affairs of ihe Soviet state For that 
reason, the excuse that the state apparatus had no influence over 
opinions m the party, chough fonnally correct, nas insufficient, as a 
matter of fact, more attenuon should have been paid, perhaps, to 
statements of policy coming from the party than to similar statements 
coming from Soviet officials In this vve have ample justification for 
the close attention the embassy paid to the Soviet press Even though 
m the early years of this period the radical opposition Avithin the 
party still had some opportunities to voice its opinions m the press, 
the more important papers were already carefully managed, and ex 
pressed nothing but official party opinion, and when an editorial in 
the official party paper, Pravda, poured venom on German capitalism, 
everyone knew that it was the party that was in control of the state 
vs hich tried to do business with the German bourgeoisie In this sense 
the Germans had much greater jusdhcaaon in being indignant about 
unfav orable press comments than the Russians The German Foreign 
Ministry had no influence over most of the press, as a matter of fact, 
newspapers were the first place m which anti-Soviet sentiments not 
voiced by the 'Wilhelmstrasse could be freely expressed Nevertheless, 
the Soviet goA emment, perhaps mistaking the influence of the gov em 
merit over the press, unceasingly protested, and was so insistent about 
It that at one point Berlin asked the embassy to collect unfav orabfe 
comments m the Soviet press so that the Foreign Ministry might have 
material for counter protests 

It must be admitted that the bulk of the German press was not 



160 7he Incompatible Allies 

very well acquainted with Soviet aSairs To be sure, German social 
scientuts led the "Western world in East European and Soviet studies, 
anyone who reads Professor Otto Hoetzsch's monthly reports on Soviet 
political developments in the journal Osteuropa must be struck by 
the validity his keen and lucid essays still possess today But the audi 
ence of these reports was restricted to narrow academic circles 
The common man received scant and quite one sided views of Soviet 
Russia If he was a worker, he read the indignant and gleeful exposes 
in the Social Democratic press If he read ilie large bourgeois dailies, 
he was dependent on the alarmist reports of Alfred Hugenbergs 
extremely reactionary Tele Union, which got its news about Russia 
from a highly spurious propaganda organiration in Kovno Lacking 
a proper intelligence department to deal with Communist activities, 
the minister for the maintenance of public order for a long time 
obtained most of his ‘ information ’ about Soviet dcvelopmenw from 
an anti Communist propaganda organization run by a Russian ^migri 
named Orlov, who speciaUred in forging documents which he then 
transmitted to the police He was tried and convicted early in 1929, 
but because the defense pleaded that he had commuted his forgeries 
for lofty political motives his only punishment was deportation E>en 
the Foreign Ministry fell for many wild rumors about the Soviet 
Union, which the embassy had to dispel Such occasions arose again 
and again Some of these confidential” reports to the Foreign 
Ministry contained fantastic inventions, thus in January of 1926 
Berlin asked the embassy whether it was true that the recent Four 
teenth Party Congress had resulted m die end of the Commumst 
dictatorship, the democratization of the regime, its transfontnation 
into a parliamentary government, and the growth of an opposition 
party 

At that, there was always at least one German press correspondent 
in Moscow whose reports were carefully weighed and were based on 
a thorough acquaintance with Soviet developments From November, 
l92l, to September, 1929, the liberal Berliner Tageblatt received 
clear, realistic, and unsentimental reports from its correspondent 
Pa-alScViefier'ln the fall otlSSl ihe Berliner Tcgcblall had begun to- 
try to obtain a visa for Scheffer These attempts had at first been m 
vain because the Foreign Commissariat refused to give its Berlin 

»A representative selection was later published under the title Sieben Jahre 
Sovijet Vnton (Bibhographischcs Institut I^ipzig 1930) 



161 


The Rapallo Era 
representau\e permission to grant such a sisa I svas then asked to 
make representations in Scheffer’s behalf with a high official of the 
Foreign Commissariat, and I decided to talk to Litvinov But on the 
day rvhen I had planned to approach him personally in this matter 
he rs'as just about to take a tnp to Peirograd I therefore went to the 
station and caught Litvmov in his parlor car He hrsi maintained 
that the Soviet government had no interest whatsoever in permitting 
a representative of the bourgeou Berliner Tageblatt to come to the 
Soviet Republic, a paper which he said, was consistently unfriendly 
toward the Soviet government I countered by saying that his govern 
ment could scarcely expect a different attitude from the newspaper 
if It refused admission to one of its most prominent correspondents 
Further, I said that an immediate view into Soviet conditions was 
the precondition of objective teporung and I finally persuaded him 
to give the orders I had requested Soon afienvard Scheffer arrived 
tn Moscow, and, for the time being I obtained quarters for him in 
the bouse in which we lived ourselves Our relationship rapidly de 
veloped into a warm friendship which was nourished by a never 
ending exchange of views Scheffer shared the political opinions of 
the Ranttau arcle m their general outlines He was always in close 
touch with the embassy, often echoing our views in his dispatches 
In his articles he tried to create an atmosphere of good will and 
understanding, but as we shall see later, like so many who started 
out not unfavorably disposed toward German Soviet collaboration, 
he too underwent his Kronstadt.’ Even his most favorable reports 
were not, however, quite what the Russians would have liked him 
to write, and just because he combined an open mind and sober 
observation with a growing personal knoivledge of the regime and 
Its personalities his presence in Moscow became more and more 
obnoxious to the Soviet bureaucracy An old tnck was tried v\rith 
success Instead of directly accusing him, the GPU centered its at 
tacks on his wife a member of the oldest Russian nobility, whom he 
had married in Moscow She was alleged to exert an evil influence 
over him and to confirm him in hts anti-Soviet tendencies. 

At this point It might be well to go into yet another, and perhaps 
the most annoying aspect of the other front ’ against which Rantzau 
and his embassy staff were stru^ling the Soviet police state, the 
doimnauon of the political police over all other institutions of the 
Soviet state, the slow moving, ponderous manner in which the bureau 



162 The Incompatible Allies 

cratic machinery turned, and the coercive policies of the state, tviuch 
nent contrary to all Western principles of judicial procedure 

In its attitude toward die diplomatic corps, the Soviet government 
naturally sought to keep within the bounds of prescribed behavior, 
particularly it wanted to prevent any violation of the foreign diplo- 
mat’s immunity None the less it permitted the GPU, and later the 
NKVD, to spy on foreign missions with methods which aroused our 
disgust and anger For instance, in the mid 1920 s, I came into my 
office one morning and noticed that a broken off key was sticking 
in my desk, an unmistakable sign that someone had tried during 
the night to open the drawer, probably under the delusion that it 
might contain secret political documents Another typical inadent 
that occurred in 1929 gave us proof that the GPU possessed forged 
facsimiles of the official seals used by the German consulates in the 
Soviet Union One day we received a parcel from the German consul 
m Novosibirsk which had been sealed with the seal of the Kiev consu 
late Obviously the GPU had looked into the offiaal consular mad 
and then mixed up tlie seals in closing the package 
One of the methods used by the GPU for the purpose of exploring 
the political views of individual embassy members was to manufacture 
letters m whidi alleged counter revolutionaries turned to us, promis 
mg important information As a compensation for such favors, die 
letters said, they counted on the embassy to support their efforts 
at overthrowing the Soviet regime The recipients were asked to 
signify their agreement by placing a burning candle behind a desig 
nated window of the embassy during a certain night 

For purposes of provocation the GPU usually made use of pretty 
women who sought to compromise younger members of the foreign 
missions Afterward the way would be open for the GPU to black 
mail the young men for information In 1932 an attempt at assassi 
nating the German ambassador was used by the GPU as a pretext 
for having two or three of its ^ents accompany members of the 
diplomatic corps, particularly the chiefs of missions, wherever they 
went, m order to ' them In dieir vigilance some of these 

agents went so far as to go in the water with the object of theix pro- 
tection when the litter was going Cor a swim 

Every once in a while, the GPU s rule over the country broke 
through the thin coat of politeness and decency and violated inter 
national law or custom By nghts, the embassy could act only when 



163 


The Rapallo Era 
German interests ivere affected by sudi inadents, as in the case of 
Kindermann and IVoIscht or the “consular agents ” Our right to 
lodge protests was already challenged by the NKID when the em 
bassy supported private German concessionaires m their fight against 
arbitrary or unfavorable deasions In this the Soviet Foreign Com 
missariat was quite unjustified, but at times our right to tahe action 
against arbitrary acts of the Soviet state was at least doubtful For the 
embassy did not restrict its actions to the protection of German 
rights. It also attempted to interfere in purely domestic cases when 
world opinion had been aroused and the German press clamored 
for such action Thus in Mardi, 1923, Rantzau saiv himself obliged 
to intenene iwth Cbicherin on behalf of the Catholic Archbishop 
Cepljalc, to the great resentment of Moscow A new outburst of 
oppression and violence against churches and priests occurred in 
the early months of 1930, and again the German ambassador inter 
vencd with the foreign commissar, this time on behalf of the Protes 
tant ministers who had been arrested Here we iverc on very shaky 
ground, and our protests were repudiated The same thing occurred 
m the summer of 1927, when we tried to intervene on behalf of 
Soviet citizens of German origin svho had fallen victim to the wa\e 
of terror sweeping the country at that time, produang mass arrests 
and wholesale death sentences Again, in the winter of 1929-1930 
many peasants of German origin were affected by the merciless drise 
against the kulaks, and were driven off their farms m the middle of 
tlie winter months Rumors spread among these Germans that tliey 
would be permitted to emigrate to the New World, and about thirteen 
thousand Mennonite farmers left Siberia to gather near Moscov/ in 
makeshift camps and press for their release They were visited by the 
then agricultural attache of the German Embassy, Professor Otto 
Auhagen, who openly reported their plight and aroused German 
public opinion to mass support of their desire to emigrate Had he 
not been a member of the embassy, the Soviet government ivould 
most probably have arrested him, as it was, he enjoyed the privilege 
of extraierritonality, and all the Russians could do tvas to designate 
him persona non grain and demand his recall After much pressure 
■Moscow agreed to release the German farmers tor emigration over 
seas The German cabinet voted funds for their care m transit and 
pleaded with, the Canadian authorities to accept the emigrants At 
this point Moscow became impabent to g;et rid of the German peasan ts 



164 


The Incompatible Allies 

and threatened to send them back to Siberia i£ they were not taken 
over presently Some were aclnally shipped back, the majority, how 
ever, succeeded tn going to Canada The case is significant not so 
much because of the ruthlessness o£ Soviet actions, but because, for 
this one time, both Berlin and Moscow tacitly accepted the prinaple 
that the embassy could assume protection not only over German 
citizens but also over Soviet citizens o£ German origin. Moscow re 
lented because of the overwhelming pressure of public opinion m 
Germany 

As in the case of Soviet interference in German internal affairs, our 
diplomats were often in disagreement over the importance thatshould 
be given to incidents of this sort and over the proper action to be 
taken Some of us felt that, in the very beginning years of German 
Soviet relations Berlin had been too soft and had taken Soviet msulu 
too lightly As It was a truly enormous amount of labor, worry, and 
paper was wasted on incidents of this kind The proportion of official 
dispatches filled with problems arising from them must be seen to 
be belic\ed DifBcuUies of this sort took up so much of our tune that, 
to me. they have often appeared to be the essence of our entire work 
in Moscow, and one of the chief reasons why there can be no lasting 
relations between the Soviet Union and the capitalist world Perhaps 
this view is somewhat exaggerated But surely the constant iTtitation 
and annoyance of such incidents, the burden they put on all embassy 
personnel, the strain they put upon all serious negouations, were 
less alarming in themselves than as symptoms of grave ills within 
Soviet society As symptoms, therefore, these incidents should, and 
did cause concern as to whether collaboration with the Soviet was 
really fruitful in the long run For the power of the GPU over Sot let 
foreign affairs was, among other things a reflection of serious weak 
nesses of the regime, and the sntetisi&cation of this GPU rule, as 
well as the multiplication of senous disturbances it produced m 
German Soviet relations toward the turn of the 1920 s, was a symptom 
of a serious crisis which the Soviet state was undergoing at that time 
Before we disatst due ratOA&catviws o£ tbuit csists, let ut tuia to the 
economic and military aspects of German-Soviet relations 



VI GERMAN-SOVIET 
ECONOMIC RELATIONS 
1921-1928 


I CONCESSIONS 

I had officially joined the staS o{ the Geman Embassy in January, 
1923 The Pre$ident oE the Reich upon Rantzaus request, had aj>- 
pointed me a counselor of legation, and a letter to me from the am 
bassador outlined the duties au'aicing rae 1 was to devote myself to 
political as well as economic affairs According 10 ranlt 1 was immedi 
ately below the counselor of embassy provided for in the table of 
organization, but I would taVe orders only from the ambassador di 
rectly With this Count Rantzau consciously waived all well estab 
lished diplomatic notions and created a delicate problem of personal 
and official relationships that might easily have led to fricUons But 
the then counselor of embassy was characteristically unperturbed 
by questions of rank and chain of command, and 1 always did my best 
to use a proper amount of discretion in our relationship 
My chief job in the embassy was to be that of the head of the 
economic department even though J was also to be the ambassador s 
constant ad\ iser m all impoTunt political affairs When I entered the 
embassy, however, someone else still headed the economic depart 
ment, and a few months passed before he was transferred to Kharkov 
as consul general In the meanume I was given the task of organizing 
a department for cultural relations in the embassy, 1 went about this 
at once and remained in cliarge of this department to the very end, 
even though the economic department claimed the main share of 
my ume and effort In any event, maintenance of a cultural depart 
ment made sense only as long as the Soviet government was still 

163 



166 The Incompatible Allies 

interested in cultural relations with foreign countries and ivas not 
merely using them for its own propaganda purposes 

In many respects the economic department was a logical assignment 
for me I was familiar svith the Russian economy since prewar times 
and, in. the years 1910 tn 1914, I had broadened and perfected my 
knowledge in frequent travels throughout the entire country My 
technical knowledge, too, proved valuable, since the bulk of German 
deliveries to Soviet Russia always consisted of machinery, hence, I 
was in a position to give technical advice to the representauves of 
German firms who came to Russia m great numbers to negotiate and 
close deals with the Soviet authorities 

Early in May, 1923, 1 submitted a memorandum to the ambassador 
in which I reviewed the status of German Soviet economic relations 
and ducussed the possibility of concluding an economic treaty with 
Soviet Russia In this memorandum I pointed out that, after con 
eluding the treaty of May 6, 1921. Germany had had excellent op- 
portunities to do business with Russia on a grand scale, but these 
opportunities had been missed irretrievably At that lioie the Soviet 
government had still been in doubt whether it might have sufficient 
economic strength to reconstruct its most important industries and 
restore the railroads to operating conditions in the foreseeable future 
Guided by these doubts in its own capacity, the Soviet goiernment 
in the fall o! 1921 had promised subsianiial concessions to German 
industrial and financial circles if they would help it in tasks of re- 
construction For instance, in talks with Schlesinger held in Moscow, 
the Russians had declared tfaeir willingness to grant extraterritorial 
rights to a German business association to engage m trade withm the 
area fed by an important railroad trunk line going East, if die 
association would undertake the reconstruction of the line The 
project remained on paper because the German business corporations 
that might have taken up the proposition were not interested, partly 
because they had no faith in the Soviet government, and perhaps be- 
cause in those days of the great German infiation they could not 
gather the necessary capital 

There were further proofs that m 1921 and 1922 conditions were 
very propitious for economic relations between Germany and the 
Soviet Republic At that time the Soviet government, in my opinion, 
had not yei become fully aware of the great political and economic 
advantages that could be derived from an aggressite use of the foreign 



168 The Incompatible Allies 

point of view, and of recognmng weaknesses in their own position 
Hence an atmosphere of mutual accommodation was not entirely 
stifled, and the Soviet negotiators themselves would at times tone 
down excessive demands or remove needless chicaneries I had many 
fruitful discussions with these men, and together we conquered many 
difficult hurdles 

Gradually, the Soviet authorities began to restrict and prevent 
contacts with the Mam Concessions Committee by various methods 
\Vhen the embassy protested against this interference m our duties 
we were told that negotiations concerning concessions contracts were 
sovereign acts in which the Soviet government could tolerate no 
interference from outside, least of all from diplomatic agencies IVe 
countered with the claim that my contacts with the Mam Concessions 
Committee served to safeguard German economic interests and were 
therefore an inalienable part of my (unctions as head of the embassy $ 
economic department, and we appealed to the provisional treaty of 
1921 Legally we were on somewhat shaky grounds because the treaty 
had granted the right of out of channels communication to a "com 
mercial representative attached to the German Mission" but not to 
an organic official of the embassy in charge of its economic depart 
meni However, the agreement of May, 1923 , was void after the treaty 
of October 12, 1925 had been concluded, and it did not help matters 
that thelatter document in a vague fashion obliged the Soviet govern 
ment to ' take an accommodating attitude toward German applicants 
in granting concessions Our disagreement over the problem grew 
sharper as the years went by and the Soviet attitude stiffened The 
question was not resolved until December, 1928, when it was dis 
cussed in the course of German Soviet talks in Moscow At that time 
we had to admit the impossibility of making the Soviet government 
abandon its views One of the reasons was probably their conviction 
that the difficulties and disappointments in the field of concessions 
about which we shall talk below, were bound to increase, and by 
preventing diplomatic intervention m concessions matters they ob 
viously sought to escape the blame for future failures m this field 
But when the entire negotiations threatened to break up over the 
question of our direct access to the Main Concessions Committee, the 
Soviet delegation proposed a compromise If we would abandon our 
demand, they would be willing to give the head of the econonuc 
department of the embassy the right to deal directly (in economic 



German Soviet Economic Relations J921-1928 169 

matters) not only tvith the People’s Commissariats for Foreign Affairs 
and Foreign Trade but also with all other central authorities of the 
USSR, except the Mam Concessions Committee The Germans re 
sisted for a long time but finally accepted the compromise, e\en 
though they doubted the good faith of the Sotiet gosernment from 
the very beginning In this they proved quite justified As it turned 
our later, the different central authorities, doubtless instructed from 
above, disregarded their obligation to deal mth us sabotaged direct 
negouations right and left, and went out of their way to avoid an) 
contact with the embassy Economic information w hich was essential 
to me if I was to giv e expert advice to German firms and their repre 
sentativ es was not given by the commissariats even though I appealed 
to the assurances their government had given Written inquiries were 
either left unanswered or yielded less information than could be 
gathered from Soviet newspapers Frequently I was referred to the 
Foreign Commissariat, even though the very aim of the agreement 
had been, to circumvent the Foreign Commissariat and thus to facili 
tate and speed up direct communications with the competent organi 
zations And when we complained to the Foreign Commissariat that 
the agreement was being sabotaged, we received evasive and unsatis 
factory replies 

Later, in recalling these years, 1 have often thought that my 
ongmal belief in the valuable opportunities open to Germany in 
1921-1922 was far too optimistic The brutality with which the 
Soviet government defied the concessions made to their own people 
and to foreign business when the NEP vsas introduced made me be- 
lieve that the seeds planted in the seemingly fertile soil of 1921-1922 
would not have come to full fruition 1 was convinced that the Krem 
fin's readiness to cede portions of Russia s sovereignty as a price for 
the help of foreign capitalists would not have lasted long Moreover, 
I traced a good deal of this readiness for sacrifice to the influence 
of bourgeois specialists who at that time still had an appreciable 
influence in Soviet economic agencies They were very eager in work 
ing out projects that would have linked the Soviet economy to the 
entire world economy and hi private conversations with me, they 
frankly admitted that they regarded such policies and projects as a 
means by which the Soviet regime might be steered on a course of 
slow and gradual evolution 

But there are strong indications that the NEP, and with it a 



170 


The Incompatible Allies 
grandiose policy of concessions to foreign capital, was meant very 
seriously at first After all, the terror and the miseries of War Com 
munism were still very much alive in every Conmiunist leader It 
was not only Lenin who announced the NEP 'in earnest and for a 
long time it was not only bourgeois specialists who were ready to 
make astonishing concessions in order to attract foreign capital even 
the most radical left umg oppositionists within the party recognized 
at the time that their dreams of a speedy realization of Socialism had 
to be given up Virtually every leading Communist at first accepted 
the NEP and its integral part, the concessions policy, as a large scale 
strategic retreat that would have to be undertaken ' in earnest and 
for a long time ' The initial resistance against the retreat came not 
from the leading circles of ihe party, but from its lower levels local 
Soviet organs, individuals within the bureaucracy, and there were 
widespread efforts m these lower levels of the Soviet state machine 
to sabotage the policy of retreat Particularly the Cheka and GPU 
seem to have had difficulty m reconciling themselves with the in 
trusion of capitalistic elements into Soviet life At first the reason 
was primarily ideological, the Cheka was the watchdog of revolution 
ary consciousness, the zealous guardian of proletarian orthodoxy 
Later the GPU's hostility to the NEP was probably due more to fears 
that the concessions granted by the policy might undermine the 
powers of the secret police 

In the case of the highest Soviet leaders, we can speak of duplicity 
only in the long run It is true that they meant to carry out the 
NEP in all seriousness, but it was never more than a retreat Once 
the remaining terrain had been fortified, the party might try once 
more to attack The general purpose of the foreign trade commissar, 
Leonid Krasin, was to attract foreign concessionaires on a large scale 
He seems to have believed that foreign capital should be allowed to 
build up the Soviet economy, and that then, instead of repaying its 
debts the proletariat should do away with world capital by revolu 
lion There is another sense in which one might speak of duplicity 
ven while retreating, the Communist party meant to retain posses 
Sion of the ‘commanding heights ’ m Russia s economy And to the 
extent that the concessions policy threatened the hold of the party 
on these commanding heights every Communist could not help re- 
galing It as a thorn m the flesh of the Soviet organism 

IS picture must be rounded out by viewing it from yet another 



German-Soviet Economic Reiahons 1921—1928 


171 


angle Let us assume that Z^mn and his comrades had ^^ndiose 
ideas concerning the scope of the concessions policy Whatever possi 
bilities ere opened, the capitalist world failed to make use of them 
German business could not, in those years, muster sufficient capital 
for large scale projects of reconstruction Further West there was still 
too much open hostility against the Soviet regime to consider con 
cessions very seriously, and the feiv ventures that were made did not 
show satisfactory results W A Harnman, of the famous American 
family, had little reason to be pleased with the results of his manga 
nese-ore concession at Chiatura in the Transcaucasus, and English 
attempts to run their former property, the J-ena Goldfields Company, 
on a concessions basis turned out to be a failure Thus the concessions 
policy developed only on a disappointingly small scale, and one 
might say that it was never really tried out This forced the Russians 
to leam to stand on their oivn feet, and after they had tried their 
own strength they began to think that they could afford to give up 
the old plans of large scale collaboration sviih the capitalist West 
Trying to strengthen the foreign trade monopoly they sought by all 
means to prevent direct contacts between foreign firms and Soviet 
purchasers of their goods The same Leonid Krasm who had en 
deavoted to cater to concessionaires became one of the main defend 
ants of the foreign trade monopoly 
Thus the helpful attitude of Soviet officials m 1921-1922 was more 
than a bau guilefully thrown out For such games the situation of the 
state was much too desperate in those early years If ihe Soviet at 
titude stiffened, a great share of the blame falls on the inability of the 
bourgeois w orld to exploit Russia s weakness, or on its unwillingness 
to do business with Moscow Perhaps it was mainly this failure of the 
West which virtually forced the Russians to return to sharper meas 
ures In this sense never returning opportunities may indeed have 
been missed, opportunities, that is of driving a permanent wedge 
into the doctrinaire isolationism of Soviet foreign economic policy 
and of thus steering the Soviet economy into a more moderate course 
In retrospect It seems that the Russians were never serious and honest 
'Mth their concessions propositions, but this may be a deceptive im 
pression m which effects are taken for causes 

The first German firm to try the concessions game was the Krupp 
Corporation of Essen For«d to convert its plants to peacetime de 
mands, the firm vvas looking for means to prepare the v.ay for large- 



172 

The Incompatible Allies 
scale sales of its products in Soviet Russia With this m mind ji 
concluded a concessions contract with the Soviet government in the 

fall of 1922 providing for the exploitation of agricultural land on the 

Manych River in the North Caucasus The intention was to familiar 
ize the Soviet government with German production methods m 
growing gram and to demonstrate the advantages of German agri 
cultural implements The project failed in the end partly because 
the land given to the Krupp concession by the Soviet government 
was unsuitable for growing gram It could indeed be utilized for 
raising sheep and the managers of the concession successfully adapted 
t ernselvcs to the change But they were confronted by so many ma 
terial and administrative difficulties that after protracted and unpleas 
ant negotiations the contract was dissolved » 

The next step in German Russian economic relations was taken 
toward the end of 1922 when an association of German business con 
cerns led by the well known steel corporation Otto WoI£E of Cologne 
jointly With the People s Commissariat for Foreign Trade, founded a 
imxed German Soviet trading corporation which was given the name 
usgertorg » The structure of Rusgertorg became the model for 
similar contracts that were subsequently concluded in greater num 
bers between the Soviet government and foreign parmen These 
agreements were founded on the prmaple that the foreign partner 
•was to furnish the capital and the necessary credits whereas the 
contribution of the Soviet government consisted as a rule of no 
more t an the granting of a concession to do business in the Soviet 
nion he shares put forth by the newly founded corporation were 
in t e case of Rusgertorg distributed equally between the two part 
ners In subsequent enterprises of this kind however the Soviet 
Oovernment usually secured a majority of at least 51 per cent of the 
ongina capital stock The problem of control turned into a con 
a source of friction and discussions and in most of the cases led 
premature dissolution of the contracts 
It survive very long but m its initial stages 

xtremely profitable for both parties Otto Wolff made a great 

^tanych arouse the suspioon jn other countries that the 

(ary field Nor was t GcimaD Soviet collaboration in (he rnih 



GtrmanSoviel Economic ReiatiofU 1921~J928 ]75 

deal of money on sales to Russia whereas the Soviet government ob 
tamed sorely needed credits and also profited from the fact that the 
example o£ Otto \\ olff stimulated the interest of other firms particu 
larly in Germany and Austria to conclude similar contracts with the 
Russians Most of these subsequent contracu Mere concluded under 
conditions still more favorable for the Soviet government On the 
other hand the contract betiveen Otto Wolff and the Foreign Trade 
Commissariat was abrogated by Wolff as early as January 1924 after 
a sharp difference of opinion had developed between him and his 
Soviet partner m the question of credits The wording of the contract 
had been ambiguous regarding the duration and extent of credits to 
be furnished and the demands made by the Soviet government were 
rejected by Otto Wolff as unjustified Thereupon the Russians ac 
cused him of breach of contract and began to throw difficulties in 
the path of Rusgertorg thus provoking Wolff into canceling the 
contract It seems to me that this was exactly what the Soviet govern 
ment wanted for Rusgertorg had succeeded in a very short time in 
attaining such an important place in the Soviet domestic trade that 
the government regarded its continued existence as a threat to its 
interests and to its own governmental trade organizations 
The case of Rusgertorg was a typical example of the way m w hich 
the Soviet government made use of its foreign partners as long as it 
derived benefit from such contracts and dropped them as soon as the 
conditions under which the contracts were concluded had changed 
One thing that aided them in this was the insufficient attention most 
Western businessmen paid to the formulation of agreements Instead 
of working out the precise wording of agreements and instead of in 
sisting that they be fixed in writing many of these men relied firmly 
on vague promises made oraUy and put their faith m general pnn 
ciples and customs of international trade Inevitably differences of 
opinion would arise over the application of various points in the 
contract and when these differences were to be ironed out in discus 
sions the foreign entrepreneuis would usually be faced with Soviet 
government functionaries with whom they had had no dealings be 
fore and who could quite properly refuse to talk about oral promises 
made by others Inevitably the Soviet side would insist on the strict 
fulfillment of the letter of the contract rejecting any liberal inter 
pretation Consequently any agreement with Soviet economic or 



1 

The Incompatible Alim 
mpcr,a„ce, ca™ to 

difficult and time consuming negouations which taxed the patLce 
and negotiating skill of the foreign partners quite heavily 

tSov efn imensification of .,s political and economic relat. J 
with Soviet Russia even after Rapallo Almost seven months went by, 

h s dutieT ^h'‘n B^ltdorffRantrau assumed 

10000^1 1 “ II toot the Germans eien 

tionshm ““oomic support to the new political reli 

tionship hy Oie acquisition of a major lumber concession 

October oJ‘?i?'' “O'* “‘‘“I 

were conU '''**** conclusion of a concessions contract 

bv the p h*'^ ^ ru.^ ^ German delegation set up and sent to Moscow 
lumber “"t* Himmelsbach wholesale 

was the foriup^G^^ Freiburg. Baden The leader of the delegation 
interest h^shf Ghancellor Dr Josef Wirlh The peisonal 

SDtntinwh contract favorably affected the 

been one of'.k ^ * oegotiations were conducted, because Wirth had 
svilj of th e * ®ts of the Rapallo Treaty and enjoyed the good 
boarS 5 a S'-’^nment Later he became the chairman of the 
concession. **^^5°^* d’ German corporation that obtained the 
his reward bohgues asserted that the whole concession was 

subseouenrl'”*^ Rnpallo How far from the mark this bolt hit was 
ties showed f Understanding the Soviet authoti 

A the 5 -> tie enterprise 

crantfh#.r^^ ° ' ^ ihe Soviet government proposed to 

and the Pe “ “Kcd corporation, to be founded by ilself 

they correCr," '’uT ‘■'danse 

their freedoiu arrangement would jeopardue 

5ared the ° , “T “"“"‘y The Russ, am relented and de 
corporau™ “ "“S".re a purely German joint slock 

ations plav^H^^ concession, sober economic consider 

make it an effectiv55^* ^ possible, by all means, m order to 
agreed on a timber 1“ Rapallo Consequently, they 

(about 2 00f> finn , * compruing no less than 800,000 hectares 
000 OOO acres) We shall .all about the burdens which thu 



German Soviet Economic Relations 1921-1928 175 

enormous area placed upon, the shoulders of the concessionaire in a 
moment — burdens which -were all the more unbearable because the 
entire enterprise seems to have been born under an unlucky star 
'While the negotiations went on Germany s economic and financial 
situation went from bad to wors** under the impact of the galloping 
inflation Soon after the contract had been concluded it became ap- 
parent that the entire capital originally furnished by the conces 
sionaires had been swallowed by the inflation and the project had to 
be shored up by loans This together with some other adversities 
resulted in the failure of all attempts to keep the enterprise going 
and m the spring of 1927 it had to he liquidated 

As we shall see the German concessionaire bore part of the re 
sponsibihty for tlie failure of this particular enterprise But its un 
favorable development was decisively influenced and deepened by 
the inability and unwillingness of the Soviet government to create 
conditions under which foreign capital might have worked success 
full) in the Soviet Union The lery atmosphere in which the conces 
sions contracts were shaped was m most cases ill suited to create 
healthy preconditions for mutually beneficial collaboration The 
Soviet negotiators usually had onesided and exaggerated notions of 
the alleged greed for profit and cunning of their capitalist partners 
hence their attitude of extreme distrust They had moreover an 
intense fear o£ responsibility particularly when it came to granting 
benefits or acceding to unforeseen demands Since the would be con 
cessionaires usually lacked the necessary experience and knowledge 
the Soviet negotiators often succeeded in carrying through demands 
which later turned out to be incapable of fulfillment and thus sapped 
the life out of the concessions 

The attitude of the foreign negotiators was often based on limited 
faith in the staying power of the Soviet system an attitude that 
prompted them to invest a minimum of capital with the purpose of 
recovering it as fast as possible by making a maximum of profits from 
the very beginning so that they could withdraw if necessary after 
a short tune This criticism by the way does not apply to those Ger 
mans who founded Mologales * for they had the honest intention 
of founding an enterprise useful for both partners and effective for 
a long period and they believed that the Soviet government v as 

* Mologa Iff the name of a tributary of the Votga on the banks of ivh ch the 
t mber area of the concess on i as s tuated L«s u Russ an tor wood 



176 


The Incompatible Allies 
motivated by the same good will Nevertheless, they share the guilt 
in the failure of the concession because they approached their task 
with insufficient knoisledge of Russian conditions and without the 
necessary financial backing Even during the negotiations over the 
concessions contract thev committed grave mistakes by not recogniz 
ing that the demands put to them by the Soviet side were impossible 
to fulfill Later they failed to see the danger inherent in the dispro- 
portion between capital stock and borrowed capital which burdened 
the enterprise with unbearable interest payments In spite of these 
difficulties, they continued to manage their affairs on the grandiose 
style which they thought the long range aims of the undertaking 
demanded 

Nevertheless it might have been possible to weather the crisis and 
to save the business, since the German government, for political mo- 
tives, was willing, in principle, to make financial contributions to 
keep the concession alive But at this point the Soviet government 
refused to make any sacnfices of their own for the sake of reconstruct 
ing Mologales by freeing it of some of the unbearable obligations cf 
the concessions contract These obligations called, among other 
things, for the construction of a railroad line through the timber area 
tlie erection of numerous workers’ dwellings, and the financing of 
welfare institutions to an extent amounting to not less than 40 per 
cent of the wages An additional burden svas the fact that the conces 
Sion could not compete with the Soviet lumber trusts because du 
latter paid 30 per cent lower rail freight and were favored in all 
other aspects by the government 

When the balance sheet of the concession was drawn in the summer 
of 1926, It became apparent that it had lost 20,000 000 reichsmarks 
in the course of two and a half years, of this loss 3,000.000 fell on the 
capital stock, and 17,000,000 on the German creditors The German 
government faced the alternative of lending a helping hand or watch 
ing the advertising sign for Rapallo being pulled in The decision as 
very difficult for the cabinet, particularly because Germany had no 
economic interest in maintaining the concession, which was working 
exclusively for the Russian market Only political motives fasored 
the reconstruction of the enterprise The Foreign Ministry feared 
t at the Soviet government would regard the abandonment of the 
concession as a sign that Germany s attitude to Soviet Russia was 



German Soinet £conomic Relations 1921-1928 


177 


cooling Berlin thought it necessary to make sacrifices for the sake 
of maintaining friendly relations \Mth the Soviet state As a conse 
quence the Reich Credit Corporation (Reichskreditgesellschaft) de- 
cided to advance 15 million marks for the reconstruction of Mologales 
under the conditions that the Soviet government participate in the 
reconstruction by discounting the concession s bills of exchange and 
that the enterprise be freed from some of the most unbearable obli 
gations By refuting all these condioons the Soviet government con 
deraned all German efforts to keep the concession alive to failure and 
made its liquidation inevitable 

Among the other enterprises founded m the Soviet Union after 
1923 with German capita! were three transport companies two agn 
cultural concessions and four small industrial undertakings The 
three transport companies nere organized as mixed German Russian 
joint stock corporations Their management ivas partly m German 
and partly in Soviet hands which often led to friction on the other 
hand the mixed-company type offered advantages even for the 
German partners in that it gave them a certain backing in their 
dealings with Soviet authorities The German partners in mixed 
companies usually had an easier time than concessionaires because the 
latter were completely on their own m dealings with Soviet ofTicial 
dom except for the support pven them m some cases by the em 
bassy 

The first of the transport companies to be founded was Denitra 
a German Russian transport company created by the Foreign Trade 
Commissariat and the Hamburg American Line In its attempt to 
work with Its Soviet partner the Hamburg American Line from 
the beginning met great difficulties which were due to the clumsiness 
of the Soviet economic system and the distrustful attitude of Soviet 
agenaes Things were made more difficult for the Germans by virtue 
of the fact that Derutra obtained a virtual monopoly in die transpor 
tation business connected wth German Soviet trade This netted 
them the enmity of all those German transportation firms which 
were also interested in the German-Soviet freight business In 1926 
Derutra ceased its activities after the partnership had been dissolved 
by the Soviet gov ernment The Russians never gave their German 
partners a plausible explanation for their step but the obvious 
reason was that the Hamburg American Line through its patticipa 



The Incompatible Allte: 

ucn .n the mixed en tetpme. had had a closer view of Sonet economic 
conditions than Afoscots desired 
Very early, the joint interest o£ Germany and Soviet Russia in 
regular air communications between Berlin and Moscow led to the 
creation of ' Deruluft/' a mixed German Soviet air transport com 
pany which survived because its exutence corresponded to a mutual 
necessity 

'■Rustransit.*' on the other hand, created by a German association 
and the Foreign Trade Commissariat for transit traffic to Persia, had 
to fight against constant difficulties because the Soviet government had 
granted transit rights to the East only very grudgingly, and sought to 
restrict their use as much as possible 
Of the two agricultural concessions only “Drusag" (DeuuchRus 
sische Saatbau Aktiengesellschaft) survived for a long time, and that 
on y ecause the Reich m the end granted financial assistance to keep 
the concession above water What finally spelled the doom of Drusag 
was the fact that owing to expert management, it developed into a 
mo e agricultural enterprise, the prosperity of which stood in sharp 
rontrast to the misery of the North Caucasian villages surrounding it 
or t e Soviet government this was reason enough to turn against 
the concession with customary ruthlessncss It harassed the managers 
0 rusag through the arrest of key employees and the institution of 
a crimina trial against them as well as discriminatory taxation 
nnaliy its liquidation became inevitable 
The four industrial concessions were plants produang commodities 
w 1C of only minor importance for the Soviet economy Afore 
over, e capacity of these works did not by any means reach the 
proportions of which the Soviet government had dreamed when it 
eci e to give foreign capital the opportunity of participating m 
the ^construction of the Soviet economy The insecure profits which 
e erman entrepreneurs gained from the concessions were utterly 
ina equate in relation to the pain and sacrifices expended to keep 
the enterprises operating On the other hand, the benefits the con 
essmns o ered to the Soviet economy were not sufficient to justify 
ent w ich their existence made in the planned economy of the 
^ state Thus in the long run the four concessions, engaged 
tnanu acture of printer's ink, buttons, enamelware, and tooth 
tical . caused more annoyance and vexation than prac 

nehts, and neither party regretted the inevitable consequences 



CermanSovrtt Economic Relahons 1921-1928 


179 


2. THE ECONOMIC TREATIES OF 
OCTOBER 12, 1925 

In my memorandum of May, 1925, 1 had suggested that it was time 
to begin regulating the legal bases o£ German Soviet trade relations 
by a comprehensive treaty, even though Germany %\as then in a 
state of extreme economic wealiness owing to the occupation of the 
Ruhr Basin I mentioned several reasons why negotiations for such 
a treaty should be started now Russia's relations to England had 
cooled markedly, possibilities for an understanding with France had 
still not become apparent negotiations w ith Sweden had been broken 
off •without result, the ratification of a treaty concluded with Den 
mark was being delayed, and the possibility of a rapprochement i\ ith 
Poland ■was far off All of these factors would dispose the Soviet 
government to make concessions, particularly since she was vitally 
interested in exporting her agricultural produce In a report to 
Berlin the ambassador endorsed my views and added his own com 
ments, reflecting the impression which the events in the Ruhr had 
made on him The road to the IVest he asserted, could lead Germany 
only to a slave status The only way to get Germany out of her 
misery lay, not in unconditional surrender to Moscow, but in planned 
and purposive collaboration with the Russians economically and 
politically 

The negotiations which began m Berlin in June, 1923 lasted al 
together for more than tivo years Iniemipted several times, they 
ended on October 12, 1925, with the conclusion of a voluminous 
cluster of treaties laying doisn a nettvork of rules and regulations 
governing the economic relations between the two countries An 
incident that occurred on May 3, 1924, in Berlin rudely interrupted 
these talks about a German Russian trade treaty and also interrupted 
active trade relations The occurrence played a role transcending the 
framework of German Soviet relations, and turned into a precedent 
setting affair For the Soviet government succeeded in having the 
incident settled under conditions which decidedly favored their long 
sistiding attempts to obtsin extraOimtonal privileges for their trade 
representauons abroad 

A German Communist, under arrest, was being escorted through 
the streets of Berlin by two officers of the criminal police who v\ ere 



180 The IncompaUble ^ilwj 

strangers m the city Taking advantage of their ignorance, the Com 
munist led them to the building of the Soviet trade representation, 
freed himself, and disappeared in the building Two hours later a 
squad of German police broke into the premises of the trade ^epr^ 
sentaiion and, under the pretext of searching for the escaped prisoner, 
made a thorough search of the rooms, including desks and file cabi 
nets It IS alleged that Communist propaganda literature m the Ger 
man language was discovered in the course of the search, though 
naturally the Scviet version denies this part of the story In any 
event, it is of no great importance in this case The Soviet protests 
were based on the claim that the police search of the offices consti 
tuted a breach of internaiional law inasmuch as the trade repre- 
sentation enjoyed the privilege of extraterritoriality on the bases of 
existing agreements The agreement referred to was the provisional 
treaty of May 6, 1921, but this granted extraterritorial rights only 
to the head and seven members of the trade representation What 
cier the legality of the search, however, it was dear that the police 
had gone further than the most liberal interpteiation of existing 
agreements would have permuted, for an escaped prisoner is not 
found in desk drawers and file cabinets For once, therefore, the bur 
den of settling the incident rested squarely on our shoulders 
The Soviet government from the beginning made an attempt to 
use the incident for the purpose of having the trade representation 
recognized as an integral part of the embassy, and hence as extra 
territorial without limitations It immediately resorted to reprisals 
by breaking off all economic relations with Germany, regardless of 
the fact that the measure at that time was a severe blow to their own 

interests Obviously, they were ready to incur even these disadvantages 

and losses as a puce that had to be paid The break placed the Ger 
man government in a very uncomfortable position because German 
business circles interested in trade with the Soviet Union felt ihe 
rupture of relations as a detrimental blow, and they immediately ap- 
plied pressure for a speedy settlement of the conflict Count Rantzau 
suggested creating a joint court of arbitration to decide the issue 
The German police, hoivever, througfi the Ministry of the Intenor, 
categorically refused his proposal, for they could not bear the thought 
that the yustice of their measures against the trade representation 
should be challenged and judged by an ad hoc organization whose 
legitimacy they refused to adinowledge Hoiv curiously similar— at 



German Soviet Economic Relations 1921—1928 181 

least in this respect — ^\\ere the relations of the German police and 
the GPU to their respective Foreign Officesl Negotiations to settle 
the conflict dragged on for almost three months, particularly since 
the Russians demanded in addition that the German government 
apologize and punish the gudty police officials Nor did it desist from 
Its demands when the ambassador once again threatened to leave 
Sfoscow and even asked lor exit visas for himself and the closest 
members of his entourage 

I participated in all the n^otiations between Rantzau and the 
Russians oier the settlement of the conflict, and the more they were 
drawn out, and the more the situation sharpened, the greater grew 
my worries over the future of German Soviet relations I finally de 
cided, therefore, to resort to means I bad already used with success 
on similar occasions an appeal to Radek, for whom the maintenance 
of Oeiraan Russian relations meant more than a useful means to 
an end, and who always reacted posiuvely when these relations were 
in danger After the death of Lenin he had lost some of h>s political 
importance, but in the summer of 1924 he was still able to influence 
personalities and politics in the Kremlin ^Vhen I invited him to my 
house he came at once, and in the ensuing tSte a tite I first of all 
convinced myself that he was fully aware of the seriousness of the 
situation On the condition that Ranizau would retract his threat 
to leave Moscow, Radeh offered to influence ihe Soviet government 
sufficiently to avoid a rupture in our negotiations Upon this I tele 
phoned the ambassador Although it was very late at night, he hur 
ried to ray place immediately, and we three continued our talk The 
sun was already in the sky when we parted We all felt that the 
situation was not at all so hopeless as it had seemed a day earlier, 
with die help of such addiUonal channels as Karl Radek could open 
for us It would be possible to settle the conflict The final result of 
the talks was that the Russians obtained most of what they wanted 
and thus scored a decisive gam, ivhich we had to concede as the 
lesser evil under the circumstances A protocol, which ivas signed on 
July 29, 1924, in Berlin, recognued three fifths of the premises of 
the trade representation as being extraterritorial and thus created 
a situation from which it was only one more step to recognize the full 
extra temtonality of the entire trade representation An agreement to 
that effect was incorporated in the trade treaty o£ October 12, 1925, 
and this in turn subsequently served the Russians as an important 



182 , 

The Incompatible Allies 

precedent for getting other states to grant extraterritorial pnvilem 
to Soviet trade representations In this svay the Russians once again 
made Germany the involuntary pacemaker in shaping their relations 
With the outside world 

The settlement of the conflict opened the way toward a renewal 
of the trade treaty negotiauons that had begun in Berlin The talks 
were resumed in Moscow in November, 1924 
The Moscow negotiations were characterized by the fact that, in 
working for a broad treaty regulating the economic relations between 
e two countries, the Germans were mainly interested in material 
results whereas the Russians had their eye prmapally on the tactical 
a vantages l at might be gained Moscow as primarily interested 
in emonstrating that an understanding of, and economic inter 
change with, the Soviet regime was possible, whatever the differences 
manner the Russians wanted to arouse the 
pe i ive spirit of the capitalist world and open the way forcorre 
spending agreements with other countries They were by no means 
llmg howei^r. to make concessions on the subject of the foreign 
trade monopoly In his opening speech Krasin left no doubt that the 
ovie government would under no circumstances let anyone prevent 
»v. plans for mdusiriahza tion which were already 

en eing envisaged and that it was firmly resolved to enter no agree 
n ten ing to restrict the foreign trade monopoly, which he 
“I'’"' '''' Soviet Structure He 

icate t at e would strive for the untrammelcd recognition of 
Ins monopoly as nell a, of the extratemtorial privileges ot the Soviet 
trade representations and the Russians wanted this recognition in 
eorporated in the treaty permanently 

The Germans on the other hand, tried to lessen the effect of the 
monopoly by demanding that Cemian firms be given the right of 
ncquisition in the Soviet Union, dia, German sales Soviet Russia 
e guaranteed by fixing ,hat the most favored nation 

IveiT^r provided for m the Rapallo Treaty remain unrestricted 
the annhe* traditionally made significant exceptions in 

to certain ^ ° favored nation clauses, pleading that owing 

Hast she had',™'*”'"'’ r*’”'"’”' with China and the Middle 

which rniiM "eighborsanumber of favorable conditions 

ators dema IT granted to Western nations The Soviet negoti 
atots demanded that this practice be recogmeed, but because recogn. 



Germon Soviet Economic Relations 1921-1928 


183 


tion ^vould have meant a senous qualification of the most favored 
nation treatment Germany bad been granted in the Rapallo Treaty 
the German delegation fought against it with great vigor, though 
uithout success In general the Russians bad their nay on most im 
portant issues and if the voluminous treaty ivas nevertheless con 
eluded it was because for political reasons Germany at lliat time 
could ill afford to let the negotiations fail In a memorandum which 
Stresemann submitted to the Reich cabinet on July 13, 1925, he 
wrote that the German delegation had suggested postponing all fur 
ther negotiations until the fall because they were taking such an un 
saUsfaciory course, but its proposal was rejected by him Moscow, he 
said, had become so suspicious of German dealings svith the Western 
powers that it would have regarded the mere move to adjourn as a 
sign that German foreign policy ivas definitely turning away from 
Soviet Russia and in view of the unfortunate course of recent eco- 
nomic negotiations with the French and the Poles Germany s foreign 
trade, the minuter concluded, was in need of the Soviet business 

The German government therefore abandoned its original de 
mands and Had to be sattsBed that at least the form of the treaties 
the juridical formulation of the specific agreements and a number of 
detailed provisions corresponded to its ideas The treaty that ivas 
signed was a cluster of agreements codifying in considerable detail 
consular relations customs, inspection residence and property regu 
lations and other problems arising in various types of economic 
dealings 

From the Soviet point of view, ihe treaty was on the whole, a 
great success True, some clauses that were inserted for the protec 
tion of various German economic interests particularly the farmers, 
tended to restrict Soviet exports to Germany But the foreign trade 
monopoly and the extraterrilonality of trade representations had 
been guen additional treaty recognition and were being firmly an 
chored in international custom The great expectations which Get 
man business circles had in the treaty at the time of its conclusion 
were hardly realized The hope that Russia s gradual integration into 
the world economy ivould render the foreign trade monopoly more 
flexible and accommodating m application was not fulfilled Neither 
did the careful codification of economic relations help to adjust the 
economic and legal systems of the two countries to each other, as 
some had predicted Contrary to German expectations, moreover, the 



184 


The Incompatible Allies 
proportion of exports imo Soviet Russia to the total German exports 
did not rise appreciably From 1925 to 1928 the proportion rose oil, 
from 2 9 per cent to 3 3 per cent and in I92S the Soviet Union 
ranked twelfth as a customer for German goods 

i CREDITS 


German Soviet trade relations were from the very beginning charac 
terized by Russia s constant great need for large long term aedits 
But Germany s own financial strength was limited m the early 19'’0 s 
and German as well as foreign banking circles had little faith in the 
Bolshevik regimes ability or willingness to repay any advances In 
addition the German government had to take into consideration the 
attitude of the Western powers with whom it was bargaining over 
reparations payments it could hardly afford to prejudice the reduc 
tion of the reparations load by granting credits to the Soviet Union 
one the less mutual German-Soviet interest clearly called for 
generous credit arrangements The first modest attempt to further 
Soviet Russia by a credit iransactlbn was made 
in 1923 when the soolled gram agreement was concluded Thu 
agrMment was based on German willingness to advance 50 per cent 
of the value of twenty million poods* of gram to be delivered by 
Russia In turn the Soviet trade representation agreed to use the 
a vance for the purpose of placing additional orders with German 
industrial firms 


Fully two more years passed before the Germans took another step 
in t e same direction In the negotiations that led to the conclusion 
of Ae treaty of October 12 1925 the Soviet delegation had repeatedly 
and emphatically pointed out that credits were the essential precon 
itmn for the development of German-Soviet trade The government 
zn Berlin was not m principle opposed to a discussion of pertinent 
oviet proposals but it roundly declined to grant a credit of several 
hundred million reichsmarks demanded by the Russians On Oc 
7 c ^ agreement was signed by which an initial credit of 

ti. was granted an amount which was later raised 

hnwt-” ■were raised by a group of leading German 

s an secured by two drafts made out by the Soviet State Bank 

n ^ecepted by the Soviet trade representation in Berlin The notes 

< About 328 000 tons. 



German-Soviet Economic Relations 1921-1928 185 

were pajable mNew York, one half of the loan on January 29th, the 
remainder on February 28, 1926, with 8^ per cent interest added 
Neither the amount of the credit nor its very short term corre 
sponded to the wishes and expectations of the Soviet government, but 
the transaction none the less turned out to be a precedent of great 
importance to them, and one from which it derived great benefit in 
the development of trade relations with other countries Little ira 
mediate boost, how ever, was given to German Soviet trade itself, since 
individual German hnnshad meanwhile given the Soviet government 
credits of greater duration, hence the very short temi bank credit 
provided no stimulus to place additional orders wilh German in 
dustry If we wished to put our trade with the Soviet Union on a 
healthier and broader basis, we had to take the Russians’ need for 
greater and long term credits into consideration, moreover, we had 
to be aware that the majority of German business corporations in 
terested in trading with the Soviet Union were in no position to 
assume the whole risk of such credits 

Opinions m Germany were sharply divided at that time over the 
question whether trade with Soviet Russia on the basts of long term 
credits would constitute an undue nsk for the seller Wide circles 
asserted that the financial collapse of the Soviet economy would only 
be a question of ume. and that business relations with Moscow should 
be undertaken only with the greatest caution 1, together with many 
others, held the contrary opinion My continuous observation of 
Soviet reality had taught me, among other things, that the Soviet 
government regarded the prompt fulfillment of its international 
obligations as a factor on which its very economic existence would 
depend The Russians were aware that if only one Soviet note were 
dishonored, all foreign sources of credit would dry up at once For 
that reason they lacked neither consistency nor ruthJessness when 
they fell the need to squeeze the last remnants of gold and valuta 
from their own harassed populauon by methods that need not be dis 
cussed m detail here If we want to assess the possibilities open to a 
dictatonally governed state, we cannot overlook the decisive fact 
that the financial collapse of the Soviet economy, so often predicted 
throughout the 1920 s, failed to occur, on the contraiy, then and 
later all international obligations were punctually met, and the 
subsequent years of the world depression became a period of stu 
pendous economic advance in Soviet Russia 



186 The Incompatible Allies 

Theoretical considerations of this sort were not, however sufficient 
to make long term credits in sizable amounts available to the Soviet 
economy In order to attain this end, and for the purpose of enabling 
German firms to grant credits to their Soviet customer, the German 
government at long last deaded on a novel measure, which v,as ap- 
plied for the first time in February, 1926, when German business 
made a credit of 300 million reicfemarks available to the Soviet 
government This credit was made possible by a decision of the Get 
man government to diminish the risk by backing the creditors with a 
35 per cent guarantee in case of default. In other words, should the 
Soviet government fail to honor its debt the German Reich would 
reimburse the German creditors 35 per cent of their loss In addition 
the creditors were assured that m actual fact 60 per cent of their risk 
was taken off their own shoulders, since the Reich government had 
requested the various German Lander to participate m the transaC 
tion with a further 25 per cent 

Such “Reich Default Guarantees” subsequently became a standard 
feature of German Soviet trade relations And yet the remaining 
clauses of this first agreement show how very carefully Berlin was 
still approaching credit deals with the Soviet Union For instance, 
half of the SOO million had to be paid back by the end of 1928, that 
IS after little more than two years, and the use of this part of the 
sum was resincted to the purchase of commodities which, demon 
strably constituted export beyond and above normal deliveries The 
remaining half became due at the end of 1950 and could be used 
only for machinery destined to equip precisely defined Soviet in 
dustries As we shall see in a later chapter, trade relations with the 
Soviet Union did not become vitally unportant to the German econ 
omy until after the world economic crisis had set in 



VII MILITARY 
COLLABORATION 1919-1930 


I THE BEGINNINGS 

In the last days of 1925 the German press reported that the Soviet 
foreign commissar had been the luncheon guest of none other than 
Colonel General Hans \ on Seeckt, chief of the army s high command 
The reader wiU recall that at this time Chicherm vi?as spending a few 
tveeVs m Berlin on his return from German and French health re 
sorts The source of the news concerning his visit with von Seeckt 
immediately became a subject for speculation Germania, the organ 
of the Center party, alleged that Count Brockdorff Rantzau had de* 
Iiberately let the news teak out in an attempt to sabotage Germany’s 
rapprochement with the Western powers The count sv'as said to be 
seriously at odds with the Foreign Ministry, particularly with Herr 
son Schubert, its permanent undersecretary 1 have no indication that 
this story is correct, but, given Rantzau s bitter feelings over the 
Locarno settlement and Siresemann s efforts to join the League, it 
as not entirely impossible that it was he who released the story In 
the Social Democratic press the reaction was sharp and indigmnt 
Friendly relations of the Reichswehr chief with the Soviet Union 
behind the backs of the Reichstag and. presumably, the foreign min 
ister were considered to be an arbitrary act contrary to the Reich’s 
policy, and one which called for von Seeckt s dismissal The Social 
Democratic papers featured exaggerated reports about unfavorable 
reaction to the ‘ secret talks” in France and England The Cora 
munist Rote Fahne, on the other hand, wrote on December 3 1, 1925 
"A man would ha\e to be very stupid indeed to believe in actual 
fact that the Reich government would negotiate about a military 
alliance with Soviet Russia just after the conclusion of the Locarno 

187 



188 


The Incompatible Allies 


Treaty, he would have to be even dumber to suppose that the Soviet 
government would enter into such secret negotiations " 

Even at that time no attempt was made by the German government 
to deny that the two gentlemen had met Instead, the Foreign Mm 
istry tried to put the luncheon meeting into a harmless light Upon 
the suggestion of the Wilhelmstrasse, KreuzZeitung declared the 
meeting to have been a courtesy visit, purely a matter of form, at 
which, moreover, two officials from the Foreign Office had been 
present to prevent any unauthorized “deals ’’ The rumors concerning 
antzaus poor relations with the Foreign Ministry were dismissed 
as wi out foundation Similar attempts to minimize the significance 
of the luncheon were made by TASS a few days later 
Eleven months later, on December 3, 1926 the Manchester Guard 
tan pu IS ed a sensational article asserting that the German armed 
forces, in blatant violation of the Versailles Peace Treaty, were closely 
collaborating with the Red Army The German airoaft firm of 
^nkers. ^e Guardian stated, was operating a branch factory near 
oscow, Germans had esublished poison gas factories in the Soviet 
Union, frequent trips were being made by officers of the German 
Army to the Soviet Union, and finally, the Guardian claimed to have 
now e ge about large shipments of amraunition from Leningrad 
to Germany These shipments had allegedly been observed m transit 
in the harbor of Stettin 


The British Liberal paper severely castigated German military 
circles for the secret dealings of which the above information was 
an indication, but it emphatically absolved the Foreign Ministry and 
the German government as a whole from any responsibility for the 
dealings, indeed, it expressed the belief that the German government 
would “terminate forthwith’ such illegal doings now that they had 
een exposed, so that, sensational as the facts may seem, it will soon 
be possible to regard them as belonging to the past ’’ 

Ihe Manchester Guardian article, as well as subsequent, more 
specihc. charges, were reprinted in full by the Berlin Social Demo 
, P^per Vorwarts two days later Though the serious political 
cabinet, it did not have any 
PnJ ® Soviet or German policy, nor did it elicit 

nat..,- information from any source concerning the precise 

fnr a f cxtent of German Soviet military collaboration, except 
ague eclaration from the mmisines concerned that the col 



189 


Military Collaboration 1919—1930 

laboration, which had admittedly, taken place had already been 
terminated A short history of German Soviet military collaboration 
will show that this was only half of the truth * 

On February 12, 1919 the German police arrested Karl Radek, 
who had been one of the Soviet emissaries participating in the 
1 Disagreements between Soaalist and Comcaunist stevedores iti Stettin at the 
time three steamships carrying Soviet ammunition vrere being unloaded had put 
the Soaal Democrauc party on the tnil o{ some of the evidence in October 1926 
and further revelations were made in February 1927 by the French news agency 
Havas and by the Soaal Democratic paper Letpuger Volkssettvng Later in No 
vemher 1929 the Soviet counsdor of embassy at Pans Besedovsby who had re 
fused to return to Moscow when he was recafted made similar revelations 

Rumors about a secret German Soviet military alliance had however been 
spread ever since Rapallo and would be aired in the press every once in a while 
Typical of these vague accusatims was an article in the Mamtng Pcfi of Aug 16 
1923 cniJtled Gc/man Influence in Ruuu A WiJitaiy Monopoly These 
riuQOTs were given credence even in ihe highest pojiuca) circles in Germany voa 
Hmdenburg still believed them after he had sworn in as Reich President 
In 1923 Suesemann s papers relate the old field marshal s great relief when he 
was informed to the contrary by his foreigo minister (Siresemann FemSchtnw, 
11 €0) Few people it seems were convinced by the mienniitent denials issued 
in Berlin and Moscow (for instance Trotsky s attempt to ridicule the rumors ui 
laieitiya Aug 27 1922 and a TASS denial in /awztiya Oct 6 1923) 

German Soviet military cooperation bcocnc the rubjett of much speculation 
and indignant exposes wntten by scholars and toumalisis with axes to grind The 
most thorough ucilitacion of all available senps of information is C. F Melnlle t 
The Ruutirt Face cf Cermany (London IVtshart S. Company 1932) Other am 
portant references are Erich lloHenbergs The Red Amy (London Seeker Se War 
burg 1911) and two recent ariicles, George W F H^lganens General Hans 
von Seeckt and Russia 192P-1922 (Journat of Modem History Vol XXI Ko 1 
pp 28-34) and G Strohm s 'Vieriehn |ahre deutsch sowjetische Militaialliant 
(Sluttgarler Rundschau III 1 1 12) further bus of information are revealed in 
the November 1948 issue of Der Monat under the title Der Sceckl Plan ” by 
Jul us Epstein in Graf Heinrich Einsiedels Togebuch der Yersuchung (Berlin 
Stuttgart Ponces Verlag) and in Jesoo von Puttkamers Irriurn und Sefiuld Be 
Sides IVoIIenberg Ruth Fischer (^(ahn and German Communism) and Fran* 
Eorkenau (IfoWd Communtsm) are among Che former Gertnao Coatmumsts who 
refer to the subject 

None of the references aied go very far beyond the material revealed jn rbe 
beginning of 1926 except by guesswork unproven allegations and at times wild 
speculation not based on any sound evidence Strohm unpliatly makes the agree 
merit of hlay 6 19^1 into a imlitaiy agieeraeut negotiated by Krasin and General 
von Seeckt both BorVenau and Melville are certain that the Treaty of Rapallo 
included a secret military agreement Mallgarten converts the Kropp agricultural 
concess on into a sinister military business 

IVhat almost all these sources have in commoii — and what has been the reason 
for many of their factual errors— i* the (one of righteous indignation over the 
sinister dealings beti eep Prussian and Red dictators an aiutude that 

belongs quite properly in poUucal pamphlets but is not always conducive to 
correct historical scholarship 


The Incompatible Allies 
abortive Communist uprising known as the Spartacus Rebellion. 
Radek was thrown m jail in Berlin and treated very roughly at first 
according to the story he told some years later Gradually hoivever 
his jailers became more polite His manacles were removed he was 
given a better cell and better food and he was even permitted to 
obtain German and foreign newspapers One day Radek conUnues 
IS story his guard handed him a rather fancy chamber pot a strange 
present which caused him some wonder 


I immediately came to the conclusion that the affair was a strange re- 
flection of some kind of changes m world politics In fact from the London 
Jtmes 1 found out that the Soviet government of the Ukraine had ap- 
pointed me ambassador in Berlin and had demanded that I be freed and 
install^ in the embassy Since d plomatic relations had been sesered 
wi^Ui the Soviet government of Russia but not the Ukraine my dear fnend 
istian eorgievich Rakovsky had resolved to try getting me out of jail 
Dy appointing me to a diolomatic post The German Min stiy of Fore gn 
Affain headed by the Social Democrat August Muller did not agree with 
Rakovsky but decided nevertheless to show a Imle concern for the situation 
of the unrecognized diplomat sitting in jail It asked the Ministry o' Justice 
about my circumstances Justice asked the prison and the head of the 
prison decided to show politeness by a present of pnme necess ty Small 
causes requently have great consequences said some ancient who amused 
imse in the old days by formulating human experience in pretty apho- 
risms Here great causes led to tiny consequences * 

This lutlc story and Radek s comment on it are significant only 
because Radek was correct in sensing a change m the attitude of 
isjai ers Upon his arrest he had calmed down an angry colonel who 
was urhng abusive threats at him with the question Now that 
e ntente is disarming you why do you Germans want to make 
yourselves yet another enemy Soviet Russia? Clearly the German 
mi itary thought of Communism as a menace but Russia would 
remain a possible ally of great potential strength 

j ^ transferred to a comfortable room in the prison 

^ ^ given permission to receive visitors (permits to see 

ere o tamed in the War Ministry) his quarters turned mto a 

Prof ' e* No 10 pp 139-175 (October 1926) 

puentlv trandarpH o present chapter was shown m manuscript subse- 

Vol III No 4 3 e s article and published excerpts from it in Soviet Stud ei 



Military Collaboration 1919—1930 191 

political salon, where young Communist leaders came for advice, 
statesmen to air their vievss — and officers to establish contact and 
talk about possible military collaboration particularly against Po- 
land After his release from prison, Radek lived for a svhile in the 
apartment of one of these officere, a Baron Eugen von Reibnitz, svho 
many years later revealed that definite arrangements for a new di 
vision of Poland svere made by him and Radek The capture of ^Va^ 
saw by the Red Army was to have been the signal for the German 
Freikorps to move across the new boundaries 

It seems that von Reibmtz and another of Radek s visitors, Colonel 
Max Bauer, were both connected closely with General Ludendorff 
Like their chief, they were not typical of German military opinion 
in these day^ In the first months after the revolution the prevailing 
attitude among the German generals seems to have been the hope 
that they could make themselves indispensable to England and 
Trance by fighting Bolshevism The hope may have been coupled 
with longstanding ambitions of Eastward expansion, of which a 
iileiQorandum penned by General von Seeckt probably in 1915, is 
one of the most radical expressions* The combination of the two 

* General Kans von Seeckt i( seems was not always in favor of military co 
operation between German)' and Russia His polic) of collaboration was the con 
sequence of CorniaQ) s defeat and the trreconcilable attitude of the IVestem <4]]iee 
at Venailles. Before ibac uiae she general seems lo have had somewhat different 
ideas 

Among the voluminous papers of General von Seccki now m the United States 
National Archives there u a raemorandum written unmistakably in the general s 
own hand According to a penoled notation (mosi probably added by General von 
Rabenau von Seeckts official b«^:(aphei) the memoiaiidum was probably writ 
ten in 191S It is here printed for the first Ume 

Whether the war aims expressed sn the oaetaorandum. ate those he himself ad 
vocated in 1915 or whether he merely copied someone else s ideas cannot be ascer 
tamed It u certain that von Seeckc was at least not unsympathetic to them even 
though be might have put them in a less radical fona Even so they desene to 
be published as a typical expression of iradiUoiMl aspirations gone wild during 
wartime It reads as follows 

Separate peace with France and Belgium on (he basis of status quo ante Then 
all land forces against Russia Conquest of ten thousand square miles expelling 
the population except of course CemiaTis Russia has a lot of room for them 
particularly in magnihceni Soaihem Siberia 

The German people needs great tatks But we must not diffuse ourselves all 
o\er tfie world but must concentrate out efforts in Europe Form Kingdom of 
Oscniark under £uel Fnednch Free distribution of vastest lands to a million or 
more veterans who want to become colonieers the sue growing with the rank 
Faced with the greed this stimulates all lesistance on the part of Social Democracy 
and Center will collapse at once Once there are ZOO millions of healthy and 



192 


The Incompatible Allies 
ambitions led to the Baltic adventure, in which German irregulars 
With the tacit connivance of the War Mmutry. fought side by side 
with Allied troops and domestic anti Communists to expel the Red 
forces from the Baltic provinces Once their mission was completed 
the German units were forced by the Allies to dissolve The maneuver 
had failed, the Baltic adventure had been nothing more than an 
important breeding ground for German fascism And Versailles 
proved conclusively that the West did not think a well armed Ger 
many indispensable 

But even before Versailles more influential sections of the military 
turned toward collaboration with Soviet Russia The first attempt 
of General von Seeckt to make contact with the Russians seems to 
have been made in April of 1919 At that ume the general aided his 
good friend Enver Pasha to cross the cordon sanitaire and reach 
Soviet territory A Turkish revolutionary, nationalist officer, and an 
ardent foe of British imperial ism Enver had become acquainted with 
the general during the war, after the defeat of Turkey he had fled to 
Germany and remained in close contact with his fnend von Seeckt, 


thousand square miles of soil say m the year 2000 
we shall be at least somewhat secure against this immense Russia that might one 
day pve birth to another Peter the Great Skobelev already was dangerout 
Thu war will probably cost us a million men among them the best. (I" 
b^inmng o£ January we had a total of 150000 dead 550 000 wounded 225000 
of ihcin serious 325000 light and 150000 missing) Against thu what doo it 
mean to expel 20 million men among them a lot of riflTaff of Jews Poles 
Alasurians Liihuanuns Letts Csthonians etc? 

VVe have the power to do it and wc have been plunged into conditions which 
in teiTM of blood and destruction leave the age of migration far behind hence 
let us behave according to the customs of the age of migration 
Our aUy can get his share of the spoils m Volhynia and Podolia if he wants 
Kussia with her 400 thousand square macs will come to accept the loss of land 
particularly if we cover her rear for further expansion m Asia 

n ay event it seems to me to be easier to exbet 20 mMion Russians than to 
digest million Belgians 

would take from us at least East Prussia and 
w«c Prussia on the right bank of the Vistula le about one tenth of the area 
If popuJatwm of the German Reich 

rT 5 .,.ri German suiplus of eneigv u for three generauons concen 

vratiis " “ onuation in che East rhen peace with England on the basis of the 
.n possible for we shaU then have no conflicung interests 

stron.,.. future But if En^and wanU it differently then our navy is 

ad infinitum 

2000 the colonics later we could conquer them But in the year 
Asia and ** between Germany and England but between Europe 



Military CoUahoration ]$19-19^0 )93 

and now he gnen an airplane with ivhich he set out to fly to 
Soviet Russia* He was captured by British troops, however, when 
he had to make a forced landing in Lithuania By a miracle a fnend 
of General von Seeckt. Major Frtut Tschunke, uho nas leading a 
Freikorps unit in Lithuania, recognized Enver before the British had 
seen through his disguise, and he helped him to escape ® I saw Enver 
Pasha in Moscow several times m the early 1920 s About the nature 
of his mission on behalf ot General von Seecki or his accomplish 
menis I have no knowledge There arc no indications, however, that 
the German feeler had any appreciable results 

New attempts at military collaboration were made after the end 
of the ci\il war in Russia In the fall of 1921, a Junkers director 
came to Berlin to sound out officials of the Foreign and War min 
istries about any aid the Reich might give his firm in establishing 
an airplane motors works in the Soviet Union To participate in 
these talks, the War Ministry detailed officers from ' Special Group R " 
Special Group R had been established some months earlier within 
the army organization for the specific purpose of conducting any 
collaboration that might be arranged with the Red Army There 
are indications that Major Tschunke belonged to it and that it 
might have been headed by a Major (later Colonel) Fischer In the 
talk* between the Junkers representative and the Foreign Ministry, 
Special Croup R took an active hand by guaranteeing the airplane 
firm that it would take over all political nsks that might be involved 
m the transactions planned It further guaranteed to furnish Junkers 
a workingcapifal of 600 million marks At that time this sum repre 
sented roughly 53,000,000, but the inflation of the German mark took 
such rapid stndes tliat a few months later, in Marcli, 1922 the sum 
was worth no more than $250,000* In spite of such financial diffi 
cuities, agreements made in 1922 and 1923 led to the conclusion 
of a contract by which the Soviet government granted the Junkers 
corporation concessions for the manufacture of airplane motors m 
a plant at Fib, eight miles outside Moscow In the same months a 

*TTie actual arrangements were made bf son S<ccl.t* a«de KSstnng who many 
years later became the German mtlitaiy attach^ in Moscow 

sTlus story is based on Tschunkes rminiscenas coniained in the von Seeckt 
Archives Tschunke with whom 1 was personally acquainted later became man 
aging director of (he Russia Cotumidee o£ the German Economy 

« Tor further deiails about Ihe contract cl MeJviHe op cjl,p 69 1 have so way 
of judging the reliability of the data given by Mcl\ ille 



194 The Incompatible Allies 

German Soviet joint stock company, "Bersol,” was founded for the 
purpose of manufacturing poison gases at Trotsk, m Samara Province 
The manager of the enteqirise was a Dr Hugo Stolrenberg Con 
tracts were also concluded under which the Soviet government was 
to receive technical assistance from Germany in the manufacture of 
ammunition in Zlatoust, Tula, and Petrograd The Reich War Mm 
istry was to receive a certain share of the production of these works. 
This last arrangement was drafted m Berlin in the summer of 
1923, with a Soviet delegation headed by Arkady Pavlovich Rozen 
golts, at that time a member of the Revolutionary Military Council 
and chief of the central board of the Soviet air force 

In order to cover up its hnanctal backing of these enterprises, the 
German War Ministry launched a sort of holding corporation with 
the innocuous name Gesellschaft zur Forderung gewcrblicher Un 
ternehmungen (GEFU) ’ with head offices in Berlin and Moscow 
GEFU's working capital in 1925, after the end of the German tnfla 
non, amounted to 75 000,000 reichsmarks (approximately $18,000 
000) But the company did not last very long Perhaps the anny 
did not know how to pick efficient business managers, m any event 
GEFU engaged m dubious financial maneuvers abroad, and by the 
mid 1920$ It had speculated itself out of existence Its functions 
were taken over by a similar organization called Wirtschaftskontor 
(WIKO) • 

Special Group R conducted its business not only in Berlin, but 
simultaneously established a branch office in the Soviet capital named 
Zentrale Moskau In the summer of 1921, a certain Herr Neumann 
arrived in Moscow, as the representative of the War Ministry, to 
study possibilities of military collaboration and to establish the 
necessary connections The pseudonym Neumann” hid the identity 
of the then Major Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer, who was bom 
in Bavaria m 1885 A career officer, he had acquired fame during 
World War I as the head of a German military expedition to Afghan 
istan, and by his adventurous escape from this enterprise Von 
Seeckts interest in him was natural, since he himself had been 
interested in the Near East ever since his service as chief of staff of an 
Austrian Army group in Turkey Von Seeckt’s private papers, now 
in the United States Archives contain a lengthy typewritten article 

^ Company for the Development ol Trade Enterprises 

* Economic Office 



195 


Mihtary CoUaboTatton 1919-1930 

by von fsiedemiayer probably written around 1920 on geopolitical 
problems of that area with particular atcention given to Pan Islamic 
and Pan Turanian currents Von Niederma^er always loved to hear 
himself called the German Lawrence in view of his adventures 
in Afghanistan and his studies of the Iranian Basin 
1 first became acquainted with bun upon his arrival in Moscow in 
the summer of 1921 One of his tasks at that time was the inspection 
of armament factories and shipyards in Petrograd which the Soviet 
authorities had told the German War Ministry might ser\e as a 
suitable basis for German-Soviet collaboration in the field of war 
industry The Soviet goiernmentsuggested that Germany should give 
technical and financial assistance in the restoration of the most im 
portant armament works of Petrograd in consideration of such 
assistance Germany would be given a proportion of the products 
Although I had even in advance the impression that Soviet plans 
went far beyond the limit of possibilities open to a beaten and itn 
povenshed Germany I was ready to participate in Che inspection of 
the works especially since I expected thereby to obtain invaluable 
insight into the state of Soviet industry Thai the Soviet government 
had great hopes of the outcome of this inspection was clear from 
the fact that the vice commissai’ for foreign aSairs Karakhan as well 
as the Soviet representative m Berlin Victor Kopp were ordered to 
accompany us on our uip to Petri^rad 
The impression von Niederroayer and 1 received from the inspec 
tions was devastating Most of the factories and shipyards were not 
in operation because raw maienals were non existent and because 
a large part of the workers had taken refuge in the villages m order 
to escape starvation m the city Roofs ev-crywhere were damaged so 
that the macfiinery was exposed to the destructive effects of ram and 
snow and for the moat part the roachiives were in an unspeakable 
condition It was clear to us that any German participation in the 
reconstruction of Petrograd s industry was under these circumstances 
out of the question since it would haie demanded more than Ger 
many at that ume could afl^ird All the more remarkable is the fact 
that the Soviet government did succeed in subsequent yean in re- 
storing Petrograd s industries to running condition without foreign 
assistance Obviously it had underestimated its own strength in the 
summer of 1921 otherwise it would hardly have thought of asking 
German capital to participate in the reconstruction of Petrograds 



196 The Incompatible Allies 

armament industry and of thus offering Germany a good look into a 
branch of the economy which constituted such a vital part of Russia s 
military capacity Or was the atutude of the Soviet government based 
on the conviction that the days of capitalism in Germany were num 
bered and that therefore her economic possibilities and technical 
capacities could be used for the benefit of the Soviet Republic without 
any danger? 

Von Niedermayer s report on the results of his trip had th** conse- 
quence that the Reich War Ministry dropped the idea of German 
participation in the restoration of Petrograds industry The subse- 
quent agreement with Junkers the founding of Bersol and the ar 
rangement for German technical assistance in the manufacture of 
ammunition were somewhat less ambitious but safer means toward 
such restoration 

In addition the War Ministry concluded an agreement with the 
Red Army by which German pilots and tank experts were given the 
opportunity of acquainting themselves with the construction and 
use of aircraft and tanks in Russia the construction of these 
weapons was forbidden the Reich by the Versailles Peace Treaty 
The Red Army created a flying school near the town of Lipeuk m 
Tambov Province where hundreds of German experts who came 
and svent in a steady flow were trained Although the school was 
financed by the German Army participation in it of German per 
sonnel was catnoufiaged German mechanics and former air officers 
on the permanent staff were employed as private persons But even 
officers on active service who were sent to Lipetsk on temporary duty 
were formally separated from the service for the duration of their 
courses The arrangemenis that had been made for a tank, school 
near Kazan were identical Tanks used there were bought in Eng 
land and both Soviet and German personnel used them in their 
studies 

From Its establishment until about 1932 Oskar von Niedermayer 
was head of Zentrale Moskau which had administrative economic 
and financial control over these affairs and which furthermore acted 
as administrative center for all German personnel in Russia con 
nected with them In addition he fulfilled the functions of an un 
official German military attach^ by making regular reports about 
his impressions and observations In this he was more important than 
the official military attache whose contacts with the Red Army were 



Mtliiary CoUaboTaiion 1919~19S0 197 

much more restricted than those of Zentrale Moskau Moreover, for 
seointy reasons, the official military attach^ was not allowed to have 
any contacts with von Niedermayer and his group, so that he had 
no opportunity to talk to the constant stream of German Army per- 
sonnel passing through Zentrale Moskau on their way to or from 
different places svithin the Soviet Umon ® 

After being relieved from his duties with Zentrale Moskau, von 
Niedermayer returned to Germany and took a position as professor 
at the Berlin University for Geography and Geopolitics ^Vhen 
H'orld War II broke out, he placed himself at the disposal of the 
armed forces, and later was made the commanding general of a volun 
teer division composed of soldiers from Soviet Central Asia In the 
beginning of the Hitler regime, von Niedermajer had had no un 
friendly feelings toward Naaonal Socialism he had even joined the 
party at a relatively early date During the war, however, he devel 
oped a sharp antagonism toward Nan policies m occupied Soviet 
temtones Since he did not hide his opinions, he found himself, 
some months before the collapse of Germany, in a concentration 
camp, from which the American troops liberated him Soon after 
ward he moved into the Soviet zone of occupation because he fancied 
that the Soviet gosemment would receive him with open arms, m 
recognition of his services on behalf of German Soviet understand 
mg But, instead of being cordially welcomed, he ivas arrested 
Under the customary suspicion of espionage and transported to 
Russia There Hans Frtizsche saw him in the notorious Butyrka Jail 
in Moscow, in a state that makes one fear the worst for his subsequent 
fate It seems logical to assume that the Soviet authorities have mean 
while done away with him as a living witness o£ an uncomfortable 

past 

Von Niedermayer was replaced as head of Zentrale Moskau by 
a Colonel von der I-ieth Thomsen, who bad been the senior air 
force officer during ^Vorjd ^Var 1 Retained in the Reichswebr, even 
though Germany was forbidden the re-establishment of an air force, 
he was an important link in German Soviet military co-operation, 
especially as it involved air force aff’aus He participated in the Junk 
ers agreements and assisted in the establishment of the Lipetsk school 

Some of those who have ivntten on this subject have wondered 
about the motives of the German generals m this close collaboration 

*Kostnngs Jetier ro von Seedit Aug 27 1931, von Seeckt Archives. 



198 The Incompaltble Alhet 

with the Red Army Implying that the ttvo armies s\ere plotting 2 
joint %var against the West for the resision of the peace settlement, 
Melville tvTote, “The Reichssxehr chiefs sxho are conducting the 
Afctnachungen delude ihemseKes that they can use Bolshevist Russia 
to help them in their hoped for war of revenge against Europe, and 
then, in the hour of victory, hold the bolshevists at bay and keep 
them in their place ” In actual fact the short range aims of both 
armies n ere much more restricted Germany (or her military leaden) 
Slanted to rearm, maintain cadres from its technical arras well m 
training, and develop up-iodate methods of warfare This could 
be accomplished only in violation of Versailles, and Soviet Russia 
was the logical place to hide such activities The Red Army, of 
course, could not but benefit from this relauonship but as long as 
the Russian trump card was still to be retained, that by product was 
quite desirable 

For the Red Army, contact with the Reichswehr provided sorely 
needed trainmg in staff work and organtration. Many high ranking 
Soviet officers profited from centuries of Prussian military experience 
m courses taken at the War Academy in Berlin Moreover, German 
technical assistance helped speed the construction of a Soviet war 
industry The fact that Soviet Russia was thereby simultaneously aid 
ing German rearmament was a price paid willingly Perhaps the 
Russians reckoned that German ingenuity would in any event haTC 
found ways of circumventing the provisions of Versailles m that 
case It might as well be the Red Amiy that would profit from it by 
improving us ow n methods, obtaining information about the Reichs- 
wehr, and helping the Germans to sabotage Versailles 

Moreover, the collaboration of ihe two armies never slopped the 
Communist International from vigorous attempts to subvert the 
German armed forces Wollenberg even claims that some of the 
funds obtained from the Reichswehr were turned over to the Ger 
man Communist party for antimilitanst campaigns and efforts to 
create Communist cells among the rank and file soldiers In turn, von 
Seeckt s eternal fight against Communist activities in the army vx ent 
hand in hand with his policy of co-operation In view of all this, it 
IS perhaps surprising that military affairs w ere the one field of Sov let 
German relations not disturbed by any senous incidents On the con 
Op eit p 6 

“Wollenberg op eit , p 237 



Mtltiary CollaboratioTi 1919—1930 199 

trary, personal relations between the two amies were excellent and 
rapidly de\eloped into cordial friendship 

2. GENERALS AND DIPLOMATS 

In Its article of "revelations ' of December, 1926, the ^fancAejfsT 
Guardian had graciously absolved the Reich gos eminent of all guilt 
in connection with the secret dealings revealed, and had placed the 
blame squarely and exclusively on the shouldeis of the military 
ftfehiUe correctly questioned this by asking ' Can it be reasonably 
supposed that residing in the Chancellor's palace Dr IVitth was en 
tirely ignorant of the happenings in the palate in the Bendlerstrasse, 
the headquarters of the Ministry of the Reichswehr? From the 
preceding pages U should be dear that Melville was on the right 
track The contract between Soviet Russia and the Junkers works 
had been concluded with the co-opcraiion of the Foreign Ministry 

Much had nevertheless been accomplished by Special Group R 
and Its Zentrale Moskau without any luison with other departments 
of the government The policy of direct negotiations between the two 
armies had been advocated by von Seecki as early as 1922 In the 
memoranduin he had subroitt^ to the Chancellor in reply to Brock 
dorfi Rartrau s pro memona, he had said that such direct dealings 
would obviate Ac necessity of involving the non military agencies 
of the Reich, and thus would save the political and avil service 
branches of the administration all possible embarrassment "That 
these [military agencies} should not make any agreements binding 
the Reich without the knowledge of the policymaking agencies 
should be assumed as a matter of course, ’ he had added In fact he 
had gone beyond this proposal by stating that it was not up to the 
Reichswehr, but to German business to create a Russian war industry 
able to help Germany in case of necessity, provided that business 
v>ere to follow the direccrons laid down by the kVar Ministry 

As a consequence, the gorernment appears to have lost not only 
control over German Soviet military collaboration, but seems to have 
had only the sketchiest knowledge of the activities and deals of von 
Seecki and his officers This appears to be the most logical cxplana 
tion of the many misconceptions conoirning a German Soviet mill 
tary alhance that i^ere the basis of von Hmdenburg’s fears and the 

‘'Op oi,p 54 



200 The IncompaUble Allits 

warnings expressed m Rantzau’s pro memona After the latter's ap- 
pointment as ambassador, he convinced himself that no such al 
Iiance had been contemplated, much less concluded but he never 
ceased complaining about the lack of liaison between the military 
and other branches of the etecutive Military missions came to 
Soviet Russia either without the knowledge of the ambassador, or 
if they did report to the embassy, they paid no heed to the rules laid 
down by Rantzau for their negotiations German officers in Russia 
made wholly irresponsible statements and proposed fantastic deals 
which the Russians seem to have taken for bare com only for a while 
later these proposals were nothing but a source of embarrassment for 
the political representative of the Reich 

In February 1923, a group of six high ranking officers including 
General Hasse, Major Tschunke, and the then Major Fischer spent 
some time in Moscow, and Count Rantzau complained sharply to 
the foreign minister over General Hasses wild talk about a great 
\\ar of liberation to be launched in three to five years, and his bland 
promise to send a regular military attach^ to Moscow soon, a policy 
which the ambassador rejected categorically Other missions engaged 
in financial transactions or negotiations the magnitude of which 
m the counts opinion far transcended the competency of the nuh 
lary and which were to be regarded as primarily political Hence his 
repeated demands that the political and military authorities should 
establish close liaison and come to terms about Soviet German 
military co operation Nor did the independent initiative given to 
private business work to everyone s satisfaction, for in the final 
analysis it was based on self-deception Berlin was always well aware 
that these dealings had a decidedly political character Once business 
had been given the go ahead sign however, the Foreign Ministry 
could do no more than offer unsolicited advice The Russians m 
turn were also aware that the dealings transcended the realm of pn 
vate business but they made the contrary mistake of regarding husi 
ness too much as a semiofficial exponent of the German state Con 
sequently, they gave talks with private businessmen an openly po 
litical tone 

The ambassadors chief complaint was focused on his suspicion 
that Soviet Russia continually got the better part of the deal in nuh 
tary agreements I remember a conversation with Rozengolts, m the 



201 


Mthtary CoUaboration 1919-1930 

summer of 1923, m 'ivhich Rant 2 au bluntly asserted that German 
orders for svar material should really be regarded as an outright sub 
sention of the Soviet armament iritJustty, particularly in view of the 
exorbitant prices Germany had to pay Ranuau svould have insisted 
on concrete political adiantages to be derived from the military 
agreements While von Seecht either was satisfied with the military 
benefits of obtaining vseapons, amtnuniiion and mamtaining the m 
strucuon of his personnel, or believed that political advantages 
vould be a natural and automatic consequence of close military co- 
operation. the ambassador coiiiinuany demanded that the negotia 
tors request of the Soviet government at least an explicit guarantee 
against Poland 

The ambassador continuously bombarded his superiors in Berlin 
•with all of these complaints Although the causes for them were 
never removed to his complete satisfaction he succeeded at least 
in compelling the cabinet to assume a certain amount of control 
o\er the matter of military collaboration As early as Not ember, 
1922, Dr Wirth took pains to reassure him that the generals would 
henceforth be made to co-operate More acme support was gnen him 
in the summer of 1923 by Chancellor Cuno The latter and some of 
his cabinet ministers decided to assist Rantzau by remoiing soroe of 
the negotiations to Berlin which eliminated von Niedermayer, vho 
had particularly anugoniied the ambassador by his highhanded 
irresponsible actions Another reason that the count warned the Rus 
sians to go to Berlin was to prevent the possibility that in the event 
of a leak, Germany alone might be made responsible for politically 
explosivencgotiaCions IVhen therefore, in July, 1923, Chicherin told 
us that hi5 government would send Arkady Rosengolts to Berlin for 
direct negotiations with the cabinet Rantrau bad won a tactical 
victory which was made into a triumph when in one of the first con 
ferences in Berlin it was decided that the embassy in Moscow should 
henceforth be in control of military agreements 

By the end of 1926, when the Monc/ierter Guardian came out with 
Its revelations, the purely military co-operation in the aircraft and 
tank, schools was in full swing German financial participation and 
technical advice in the enla^emenc and improvement of Soviet 
ammunition plants had ceased, although the German Army v, as still 
receiving shipments of amnuinitiozi from these factories The Soviet 



202 


The Incompatible Allies 

German chemical company Bersol had been liquidated a few years 
after its founding but early in 1926 Unshlikht the vice commissar 
of war traveled to Berlin in greatest secrecy*’ and made ambitious 
proposals to Stresemann von Seeckt and other political leaders m 
the cabinet He outlined plans for building plants for the manufac 
ture of heavy artillery chemical ivarfarestuSs precision instruments 
and other material which the Versailles Treaty prohibited Germany 
from owning or using He proposed that officer training schools be 
connected isith these industrial enterprises In return he asked for 
financial backing and for guarantees t^t Germany would buy a cer 
tain proportion of the products since the Red Army should not be 
able to absorb enough of (hem to make the construction of the plants 
pay 

I do not knosv whether Unshlikht s proposals ever materiahied in 
full In any event German technical and medical experts s ere sull 
in the Soviet Union at the end of 1926 to assist m experiments viuh 
new chemicals In addition general siaS officen from both countries 
v-en continually participating in maneuvers of the others army 
and svere exchanging miliury information and experience 

The Junkers plant at Fill had closed by the time of the Manchester 
Guardiam reselatioru The contract beisveen Junkers and the 
Soviet Union had been terminated prematurely and each side 
blamed the other for the failure The general concessions regula 
tions and particularly the Soviet labor law under whidi plants had 
to operate constituted such difficulties that Junkers had repeatedly 
attempted to have tliem set aside The Soviet authorities hov>eser 
had shoivn themselves absolutely unwilling to do so and perhaps 
It Has politically and economically impossible for them to gne c\ 
cepiional status to a foreign concessionaire m violation of their ohti 
laws Unsuccessful in surmounting this hurdle the Junkers people 
accused the Soviet authorities of bad faith in making the operauons 
agreed upon by the contract impossible to carry out The latter coun 
tered with the justiRed accusation that Junkers had committed out 
right breaches of contract by failing to start with the manufacture 
of airplane motors by the agreed upon date nor had the company 
imported some of the necessary raw materials or shown any effort to 
organize their production m the Soviet Union ** 

Under the name Mr Untermann 

n Pravda March 24 1 y’S 



\filitaiy CoHaborafion 1919-1930 


203 


5 THE REVELATIONS AND THEIR AFTERMATH 

The Manchester Guardian aitide came as a political bombshell at 
a lime ivhen War Minister Otto Gessler was under sustained fire 
from the Social Democrats for his alleged collusion uith anti 
Republican circles on the evtremc right The new revelations ivhich 
during the next ten days were substantiated fay ne\i bits of evidence 
came as the final blow On December 16 1926 the Social Democratic 
deputy Scheidemann m a militant and angry speech on the floor 
of the Reichstag moved that that body withdraw its confidence from 
the cabinet when the nioiion was voted the cabinet of Chancellor 
IVilhelm Marx was defeated by a crushing majority The Social 
Demoaats were determined to probe deeply into the matter and to 
bring the nulitary to account 

In the Foreign Ministry among the military and m the embassy 
in Moscow the mood was mainly one of sadness and anger over the 
fact that the Socialists could let considerations of partisan politics 
override what many of my colleagues thought was the national in 
terest They thought of foreign policy as bipartisan believing that 
no loyal German would jeopardize the fragile fabric of foreign rela 
{tons which the expert officials of the Foreign and l\ar ministnes 
had so carefully spun for the nation s benefit Their sentiments were 
bluntly expressed on the floor of the Reichstag by the representatives 
of the conservative parties who hurled the epithet traitor at 
Scheidemann and his party comrades For in the opinion of the 
solid respectable citiren ihe military affairs of the Reich were be- 
yond public discussion parliniJarly when they not only violated 
routine security considerations but also created serious political era 
barrassment The publication of the Alcnc/iester Guardian and 
J orwarts articles was viewed with such alarm by the Foreign Minis 
try because it threatened on the one hand to heighten the suspicion 

1® The German judiaary also co operated to keep the mt c and tattlers quiet 
{'hen iheAfunchen/rr J’oit nnjao 19 J927 published the names of Reichs 'ehr 
officera on temporary duty in Rusia ib editor was indicted far treason In the 
sunmier of 1930 a Captain Amlin^ oashed while lesiing a fighter plane in 
Russia and his widow pubSsbed the customary death notice with the tetaark 
ih»i het husband had d ed for his Genuan fatherland in far away Russia while 
praciiang his By ng professiots" Here too the authonties qu ckly moved in to 
suppress the story 



204 


The Incompatible Allies 
of the Western powers whose friendship Stresemann was then most 
carefully seeking But it was an even greater threat to the policy of 
keeping the door to Russia open by friendly relations 

The exposure of German Soviet military collaboration had put 
tlie German Communist party into the most serious embarrassment, 
a fact that was eagerly exploited by the Social Democratic press 
Vonuarts gleefully speculated that the bullets with which Reichswehr 
troops had bloodily suppressed the 1923 Communist uprisings in 
Central Germany had probably been manufactured in the "father 
land of the proletariat *' On the floor of the Reichstag, the representa 
lives of the bourgeoisie could enjoy the even more diverting spectacle 
of three mutually hostile Communist factions bitterly fighting and 
insulting each oilier (The Reichstag had been elected in 1924, and 
some of Its Communist members had meanwhile gone into opposi 
tion to the Stalinist center, but had refused to relinquish their 
seats) All through the weeks dunng which this political storm was 
raging, the otfiaal Communist paper Rote Fahne either issued point 
blank denials of the charges or protected itself by discreet and em 
barrassed silence Nevertheless, bitter disputes must have been rag 
mg within the Comintern over the revelations, and it seemed likely 
that the parties of the Comintern, ideologically pledged to unrelent 
ing struggle against militarism and rearmament, would force the 
government of the Soviet Union to break off its military cooperation 
with the Reich 

Meanwhile the Soviet authorities, both in Moscow and in Berlin 
urgently requested that nothing be revealed to the public or even 
to the Reichstag But the moderate parties, and particularly the 
Social Democrats, insutently demanded explanations from the war 
minister Asked by the Appropriations Committee to comment on 
the revelations. War Minister Gessler stalled by promising to make 
a satisfactory explanation to the Foreign Affairs Committee Even 
this promise, which was reported in the German press, was inter 
preted by the Soviet leaders as an indiscretion, and as usual Rantzau 
in Moscow, had somber visions of the entire German Soviet col 
laboration collapsing 

Upon the angry insistence of the Social Democratic leaders, a 
session of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Reichstag was called 
together hastily, and after an unsucosssful plea to the Chancellor 
made by Herr von Schubert and General Heye to have the session 



Mthlary Collaboration 1919-1930 205 

canceled the cabinet finally agreed to have the Ministries of 
and Foreign Affairs prepare a joint statement to the committee Be 
cause Herr % on Dirksen and Colonel Fischer who prepared the state 
ment were resigned to the fact that no point blank denial of the 
charges could be made they tried to reveal as little as possible Their 
chief consideration was the fear of being disloyal to the Russians 
Before the meeting of the committee the two men submitted their 
prepared statement to the Soviet Embassy and the latter declared 
Itself satisfied The cabinet admitted no more than what the articles 
had revealed pointing out that the contracts had been economic 
and not primarily military in nature Nforeover the gentlemen could 
truthfully tell the Reichstag committee that the agreements had 
already been liquidated in full They finally urged the members to 
regard the information as confidential in loyalty to the Soviet Union 
The statement began a lively discussion in which Communists 
Social Democrats and Dr Wtrth of the Center party cook an active 
part The attack, on the secret deals was led by Rudolf HiUerding 
It was repudiated by Dr Wirth who admitted to Colonel Fischer s 
pleasant surprise that the deals had not been made by the War 
Ministry without the cabinet s knowledge but that he Wirih had 
stood at the cradle of relations with Russia together with Gen 
eral von Seeckt He vigorously came out in favor of Ostpohtik 
holding that in 1922 and 1923 it had been the greatest achievement 
of German foreign policy His speech encouraged even the Social 
Democral Hermann Muller to admit ihai be too had helped to 
rock the Russian cradle The session ended with a feiv words by 
von Schubert advocating a policy of balance of power between East 
and West which would leave Germany freedom of action in every 
direction by leaving all doors open The Reichstag seems to have 
acquiesced 

In spite of Brockdorff Ranlraus gloomy prediction that military 
co-operation would now be at an end the German authorities never 
for a moment thought of abandoning their policies For one thing 
limited relations were perfectly legal therefore there need be no 
radical rupture But even, a partial rupture would not only mean a 
severe loss of prestige but would also damage Germany s political 
situation considerably If we break off the generals asserted 
bluntly the Russians will go to the French Finally it was clear 
to us that the military would openly or secretly continue its military 



206 


The Incompatible Allies 
CO operation even i£ the political leadership were to break off all 
such relationships Thus the Foreign Office capitulated to the gen 
erals with the greatest of pleasure All concerned from Stresemann 
on down were resolved not only to continue as before with military 
cooperation but to intensify it though with the greatest caution 

Nevertheless something was changed The Russians had become 
extremely cautious On the one hand Chichenn Litvinov Voroshi 
lov and Unshhkht took the opportunity to press for much wider 
and closer collaboration whicli should also extend to the problem 
of disarmament On the other hand they made any further collabora 
tion dependent on firm German guarantees that no further revela 
tions would trouble them in the future After one of his conversa 
tions with Lunev the Soviet military attach^ m Berlin Fischer 
wrote to von Seeckt This time strangely enough it is the other 
side which has voiced misgivings whereas our Foreign Office has 
declared its agreement with the way in which our work is being car 
Tied on ** 

In the early months of 1927 General von Seeckt then without 
official position was vacationing in Italy Before returning home 
to Germany he planned to lake a trip to Turkey where he had 
fought his World War battles and from there make a visit to Russia 
In the light of the recent revelations his projected visit suddenly 
threatened to bring with it more political difficulties than the Rus 
sians were then prepared to shoulder In line with their cautious 
suspicious attitude they intimated to the Foreign Ministry through 
Brockdorff Rantzau that it might be wise to postpone the visit until 
the storm had abated Although Colonel Fischer urged the general 
to disregard the warnings for caution the Foreign Ministry sue 
ceeded m persuading him to postpone his trip Von Seeckt never 
went to Russia Even though he occupied no official position he 
must have realized that after Berlin s intervention the entire political 
responsibility for the visit would have fallen on the Soviet authori 
ties and he had no wish to cause them any additional embarrass 

ment ” 

In the end Soviet suspicions were allayed and instead of being 
broken off military co operation between Germany and the Soviet 
F scher to von Seeckt March 12 1927 von 


Seeckt Archives 



Mthlary CoUaborattan 1919—1930 207 

Union. v,as intensified Stresemann ga\e his approval to the con 
tinned operation o£ the schools at Lipetsk and Kazan German sa 
entisis ivere sent to Orenburg to assist in chemical warfare expen 
ments For a short while the German Army ceased sending its oivn 
acme officers to Russian schools, bm it was not long before more 
German officers ivere coming through Zentrale Moskau than eier 
before, although much greater care was taken to camouflage them 
as civilians On die other hand German officers participating in Red 
Army maneuvers were now permitted to wear uniforms a concession 
which the German authorities had refused as late as 1926 German 
officers of the highest rank visited the Soviet Union among them 
the then Colonel Werner von Blomberg and esen General Kurt von 
Hammersiem, then chief of the army command The German 
military attachd, Colonel (later General) Kostnng was taken on 
a 7,000 ttule inspection tour of Red Army units m the summer of 
1931 and upon his return reported to his former chief, General von 
Seeckt, that the effects of German military influence could be seen 
in all aspects of the Soviet Army Our views and methods go through 
theirs like a red thread he wrote *• 

A similar intensification of good relations occurred in the eco- 
nomic aspect of German Soviet military collaboration In 1928 
Rnipp concluded an agreement by which they were to give technical 
assistance m the manufacture of high grade steels both for military 
and for civilian uses Further negotiations took place in the spring 
of 1930 between ^Va^ Commissar Voroshilov Vice Commissar Un 
shlikht, and the Soviet chief of ordnance General Uborevich on the 

“Ii waj aliout this time that Colonel James ManhaU Cornwall the Bnmb 
military attache in Berlin hantled hi$ ambassador Sir Horace Rumbold a report 
on German Army attain ivhich conuineU ihe lolloping passage 

The relauons between the Cenaan and Soviet Russian military auihonCies 
remain somewhat of a mysfery Sach cwperatiOQ as exists is purely on the basis of 
reciprocal benefit but u appears lhat relations have been less cordial of Ute 
and there have certainly been fewer exchanges oE visits between senior staff of 
ficen of the tt\ o countries The praaicc of seconding German officers in order to 
practice flymg m Russia prevalent feom 1927 to 1930 seems to have recently 
teased There are •certainly no Geiman officer instructors attached to the Sot let 
army A nc'w German unofficial mtliCary tepiesentatise Colonel Koestnog has been 
ttnt to Moscow The cooling off of German Soviet relations may be in part at 
tnbuted to the violent propaganda campaign directed against the Reichswehr by 
the Communist party — Ernest Woodward and R Butler eds Documents on 
Bntuh Foreign Policy J9J9 1939 (London 1947) Second Senes 11 (1931) 520-521 



203 The Incompatible Allies 

one hand, and German corporations, such as Krupp and Rhemmetall 
Borsig, on the other 

We still ha\e to talk about the effect of Hitler’s coming to power 
on the friendship bei\\een the Reichsftehr and the Red Army But 
first the larger outlines of Soviet German relations in the late 1920s 
and early 1930’s have to be discussed 



VIII FROM THE TREATY 
OF BERLIN 
TO THE RISE OF 
national socialism 


I THE CRISIS OF THE 

REVOLUTION FROM ABOl E 

The era of the Netv E-oo-c -S “J, 

tegic retreat before the rebel i stimulate agricultural 

had heeti designed to parity ^ ^serves hidden within 

production, and uncover all -nurnff economy could be re 

the Russian population so that J of produc 

Mved Thep,.n.a.ynetess,t,w=n csetthee^nt 

non going again after years o condition after seven 

capital equipment were in a ^ existed, and 

year, of tntemanonal and civ.l war none the less U.=y 

were now supposed to be pul “ b” „„„ous dreams of the speedy 
Quite clearly this was a retrea ,t„domng this max. 

establishment of Socialism B of ^,5 com 

mal atm” for the duration of t exoressions of hope that 

lades combined the policy of to the same end In his 

the new course would hotvever s ov y. /1922I, Lenm cried 

political report to the Eleventh Party on move forward, 

Unh up with the peasant mass« » but so that 

immeasurably, infinitely more s ow y jj ^ that w e 

the whole mass will actually move ^^t such as we cannot 

shall m time get an acceleration o political scene, the 

dream of now " After Lenin pass entire right wing of 

vague hope was tuken up by Bulharm and the entire g 



210 


The Incompatible Allies 
the Russian Communist party In his economic ivritmgs BuWiann 
expounded the idea that, by slow evolution, the Soaalist sector of 
the economy would, through open competition, gradually absorb 
the capitalist sector, so that, “by using the economic initiative of 
peasants, small producers, and even the bourgeoisie, by tolerating 
private accumulation, we are putting them objectively to the 
service of the socialist state industry and of the economy as a whole! 
This IS what the meaning of the NCP consists of ” ^ 

The problem which such optimistic expectations obscured was 
the fact that these plans would work only if the peasant and the small 
businessman were given some real incentives in addition to the new 
economic freedom provided by the NEP If the peasants were to 
produce the foodstuffs and raw materials required for reconstructing 
the national economy they would have to be offered material in 
ducements — not just money, but, much more important, a chance 
to spend the money But the low level of industrial production and 
the low credit of the Soviet Union abroad made this virtually im 
possible, except by devoting a considerable pan of the national pro- 
duction effort to satisfying the consumers’ demands of the peasantry, 
a course which would from the very beginning, have doomed even 
the least ambitious plans for the gradual creation of industrial social 
ism m Russia Moreover, the existing capital equipment, already in 
an unspeakable condition was rapidly being used up, and at first no 
provisions were made even for its replacement, not to speak of any 
increase After 1924 a certain proportion of the national income was 
used for the purpose of replacing worn out machinery, but the day 
when the existing facilities for production would be completely ex 
hausted loomed in the not too distant future 

The fundamental economic difficulty of the regime was at the 
same time a political impasse The Communist regime could main 
tain Itself in a predominantly agrarian country only by making con 
cessions to the vast agrarian population, but, by doing so, it alienated 
not only the intellectuals making up the core of the party's old 
guard but also the urban proletariat, the class with which it primarily 
identified itself Concessions made to the peasantry would strengthen 
that class more and more and endanger the power monopoly of the 
cconomichesVoi politike a nashikh ladachakh. Ft I. Bohhevilt 

19-5 No 8 p 8 



Vrom Treaty of SerUn to Rise of National Socialism 211 

Communist party on the other hand the leaders did not believe 
that they could afford to antagonize the peasantry 
The bitter struggles fought wuhin the party during the 1920 s 
Here in part a naked struggle for power a struggle tliat ivas inti 
mately linked however with very real controversies over the policies 
that might lead the regime out of its impasse Stressing the dangers 
to the cause of the reiolution arising out of a policy of coddling the 
peasantry the Left popularly identified with the penon of Leon 
Trotsky demanded a turn toward rapid industrialization a policy 
of primitive accumulation which it ould tax the endurance labor 
pov, er and resources of the Russian population to the utmost and 
\thich would place the roam burden upon the peasantry The Rus 
Sian Revolution they warned was in danger of becoming bourgeois 
and only a frank return to the dictatorship of the industrial prole 
tariat would presene the revolutionary heniage The fate of Soviet 
Russia howeier was not the only concern of the Left The Russian 
Revolution made sense to them only as pan of the Tna 3 or world revo- 
lution they desired In this connection they warned that the inter 
ests of tlie world revolution should not be subordinated to the nar 
rower interests of die Soviet state The Kremlin s ratson d etat should 
not interfere with revolutionary developments abroad on the con 
trary the Soviet regime should openly identify itself with the world 
proletariat and support its revojutionaiy activities In one of his 
monthly essays on political developmenu in the Soviet Union Pro 
fes or Hoetzsch asked the rheionca! question What after all did 
Trotsky expect for Russia froro his radical extreme and consistent 
Bolshevism? The answer would be that in Trotsky s opinion noth 
mg could have been expected for Russia if the old course -were 
pursued further and that Trotsky ivas not exclusively interested 
in knowing what might be expected for Russia He was also an 
internationalist and a ivorld revolutionary 
Thus the Left was thinking about problems of revolution prob 
lems concerning the transition from one social order to another 
Against this the so called Center controlled by Stalm stressed the 
necessity for maintaining a working alliance with the peasantry 
Trotsky discussed what the regime should do with its power (in 
dustriahzation) and how it should be distnbuted (dictatorship of 
industry over agriculture) Stalin was preoccupied with the problem 



212 The Incompatible Allies 

of keeping ihe party apparatus in power “If we antagonize the 
peasantry,” he said, “industnahzation and the development of So- 
cialism will be impossible from the very beginning,” thus justify 
ing his program in the name of Trotsky's aims 

Stalin's program was based on three principles (1) appeasement of 
the peasantry, (2) appeasement of the capitalist world, and (3) in 
dustnalization As we have seen, the last plank of this platform iias 
irreconcilable with the first, and, for a number of years, it remained 
a promise to which scant lip service was paid A sharp economic crisis 
in 1923, expressing itself m a rapidly growing disparity between 
rising industrial prices and falling prices for agricultural produce, 
had opened up discussions of the problem In an effort to keep the 
support of the peasantry, the government forced industrial prices 
dotvn and ordered a number of stringent measures designed to m 
crease the efficiency of industry Since none of these measures at 
tacked die deep roots of the difficulty, the inflation of industrial 
prices reappeared two years later, in hidden form, as an acute scarcity 
of commodities, the so called ‘ goods famine ” The steady fall in the 
%alue of the currency was only another symbol of the crisis 

The second plank m Stalin s platform, a foreign policy designed to 
keep his country out of war, wras based, first, on the realization that 
the proletariat in the Western countries was not yet ready to come 
to power, and, second, on the assumption, made someivhat ghbly. 
that the Soviet regime could reconstruct its economy and "build 
Socialism" without the help of the world proletariat While it would 
be useful to have friendly Communist parties in every country, the 
mam task in the international scene would be to keep the outside 
world m check Against this the Left asserted that, because the So- 
viet economy was dependent on the world economy of capitalism 
‘ Socialist construction” could succeed only with the help of further 
revolutions in the West Denouncing these warnings as “defeatism, 
Stalin m a sense built his policy on the continued existence of the 
bourgeois governments, even though he hied in constant fear that 
the bourgeois world might band leather against the Soviet state n 
an anti Bolshevik crusade 

It IS an easy fallacy to underestimate m retrospect the influence of 
the Left opposition, because it was so completely and hopelessly 
liquidated after 1927 But in the mid 1920's the end of the TrotsVy 
opposition svas by no means so obvious to the outside observer In 



from Treaty of Berlin to Btse of A^oflonfl^ Socialism 2IS 

deed the spectacular radical slogans of the opposition and tite noise 
oE their campaign obscured their growing isolation ithin the parly 
In addition die opposition not only contained most of the illustrious 
names of the Old Bolshevik leadership (while Stalm was relatively 
unknown at first) but for a long time the Center paid lip service to 
many of its orthodox tenets Yet the development of the Stalin 
Trotsky controversy took place openly enough so that the outside 
isorld could follow its main steps In and around the German Em 
bassy there were some disagreements over the interpretation these 
developments should be given and over the future course they were 
bound to take Togetherwnh the ambassador I tended to regard the 
Trotsky faction as radical dreamers who offered nothing constructive 
to Sq\ let Russia Moreover as representatives of the German Reich 
we felt that the coming to pouer of the faction demanding world 
revolution, would seriously endanger the working of the Rapallo 
relationship which we sought to promote Ever since the end of 1923 
when Trotsk) had lent support to Petrov the Comintern agent who 
had been involved in the preparations for the abortive Communist 
Revolution of October November Count Rantiau was deeply sus 
picious of the opposition leader and Chicherm did his best to con 
Arm Ranuaus attitude by pointing out the dangers to Rapallo 
should Trotsky come to power The ambassador m a report to Ber 
hn stressed that the elimination of Trotsky and Zinovyev would 
be a tremendous gam for Germany and that it would be a great 
mistake to side with the opposition out of humanitarian considera 
tionj The tragedy of Trotskys fate was something he did not deny 
but It would be very shortsighted he thought if the German press 
were to emphasue that aspect of the story and thus create sympathy 
for the fallen leader among the German public 
Ranizaus dispatch to the Foreign Ministry was prompted by the 
fact that Paul Scheffer had for a long time been wTiting fair and bal 
anced reports on the intraparty struggles for the Berliner Tageblaii, 
reports m which he did not conceal his warm sympathy with the 
human qualities of some of the leading oppositionists AVhen Trotsky 
and about thirty other prominent Old Bolsheviks were sent into ibeir 
Siberian or Asiatic exile Scheffers article was full of the anger and 
puy he felt as these veterans of revolution were subjected to tradi 
tional tsarist methods by the state they th-mselves had created Since 
w ith these reports Scheffer jeopardized his owm person and position 



214 The Incompatible Allies 

they attest to his courage in the face of Soviet efforts to silence him 
In Germany his articles created a minor sensation, particularly be 
cause the Soviet press kept strict silence about such affairs, our own 
reports to the Foreign Ministry were not, of course, revealed to the 
public Rantzau w as obliged to discuss tlie effect of Scheffer s articles 
with him, but Scheffer quite rightly insisted that he had by no means 
intended to support the opposition against the government he had 
merely done fair and sober reporting Moscow, however, never for 
gat e Scheffer for Ins reports 

While eliminating his left wing critics from the political scene, 
Stahn saw himself more and more obliged to resort to the very policies 
they had advocated In 1928 a five-year plan for the industrialization 
of Russia at a forced pace was adopted Simultaneously, repressive 
measures against the peasantry were taken to ensure the food supply, 
and the last remnants of the NEP were abolished Stahn later called 
the period o£ transformation which now began a second revolution 
a revolution which this time came from above Indeed, around 1928 
a new period of violent social upheavel was gradually inaugurated 
by the regime, a period m which the former policies of domestic and 
international appeasement were abandoned for the sake of renewed 
warfare of unprecedented ruihlessness It was war against all ele 
ments of the peasantry who had improved their lot during the NEP. 
war against the trader, the small entrepreneur, against the bourgeois 
specialist, and against anything or anybody from the old ruling 
classes last but not least the war was directed against the remnants 
of influence the trade unions had had in the management of the 
economy The ‘revolution from above’ was a gigantic effort to 
marshal all the material and human resources of the country for a 
forced march toward industrialization For this march, made at 
breakneck, speed, all opposition had to be crushed More than that 
everyone who lagged behind in his efforts, his enthusiasm, or his 
unquestioning obedience to the central command was silenced and 
eliminated Not a voice of criticism should impede the mighty effort 
of the country to lift itself out of an economic and political impasse 
by Its own bootstraps 

The immediate result of the revolution from above was a deepen 
mg of the poUtical and economic crisis As a consequence of the 
peasants active resistance against the collectivization drive, agricul 
cure was brought to the very edge of utter rum, gram exports and 



From Treaty of Berttn to Jttse of National Socialtsm 215 

ivith them Soviet exports as a whole, fell to such a lo^v that the gov 
emment, in search of hard currency, was forced to export commodi 
ties sorely required by the urban population With this, bitterness 
spread to the cities, and the loyalty of the proletariat, even of the 
Red Army, seemed in jeopardy hfeanivhile, a Right opposition to 
Stalin’s radical experiments raised its head, and the regime began 
to fear that the Right and Left oppositions might join forces on the 
basis of their common enmity to the official policy 

The profound upheavals of these years of internal stress and trans 
formation coincided with a sharp crisis tn the international situa 
tion of the Soviet Union In 1527 of&cial circles in Moscow expen 
enced an acute war scare that brought them to the verge o£ panic 
The immediate signal for the wave of hysteria was the raid on the 
premises of ARGOS in London, on May 12, 1927, which led to the 
rupture of all Entish-Soviet relations ttvo weeks later Throughout 
the following months Soviet officials played up the danger of an 
tmmediate Anglo-unpenalist imervenuon England, they roam 
tamed, was mating us Eastern European and Asiatic satellites to 
aggression against Soviet Russia Poland, where the Soviet ambassa 
dor was murdered in June, and China, where relations with the Ruo- 
mintang had been severed bloodily, were particular foci of Soviet 
womes 

In retrospect, the danger of war was certainly overestimated by 
Moscow partly because of the primitive thinking with which the 
Bolsheviks indulged in these inatiers. and partly because the war 
scare was a quite convenient weapon m the intraparty conflict The 
Stalinist Center could wag a moralizing finger in the faces of the 
Trotsky opposition and say. Look at the acute danger in which the 
Soviet state is today Do you want to sow dissension at such a time’ ‘ 
Another element contnbuting to the war scare may have been the 
familiar scapegoat reaction of the Kremlin, that is, a conscious or un 
consaous attempt to distract public attention from the serious do 
niestic difficulties by blaming them on evil disturbances from the 
Outside There were no indications, however, that Soviet Russia, 
pressed by economic and political problems, w as about to run amuck 
by preparing a military adventure in a desperate effort to solve her 
domestic troubles Actually, Moscow was too busy with its internal 
difficulties, as earlier, she wanted peace and foreign economic aid 
The hypothesis that domesuc problems were precisely what would 



216 


The Incompatible Allies 
cause the Soviet regime to undertake foreign aggression was always 
being discussed, but certainly in those years it had been too often 
discredited On the contrary, the sharp break with England and the 
generally poor position of the Soviet Union in world politics caused 
the Kremlin, in September 1927, to propose a non aggression treaty 
to the French government The Quai dOrsay made only one condi 
tion Poland and Romania should be included m such a pact But 
Poland, m turn, would go into treaty relations with the USSR only 
on a collective basis together with the Baltic States and Finland and 
she made some other conditions which the Kremlin thought unac 
ceptable In addition, the negotiations with France also miscarried 
because of a sharp conflict which disrupted good relations between 
Pans and Moscow for a while 

The conflict between France and Russia, which arose over Com 
munist interference in French domestic affairs shows that there was 
at least some connection between the international and domestic 
difBculties of the Soviet regime The Soviet ambassador m Pans 
Christian Rakovsky one of the outsunding leaders of the Left op- 
position, had signed a declaration of August 8, 1927, in which the 
opposition asked all honest workers in capitalist countries to help 
overthrow their governmenu All soldiers, the declaration said 
should join the Red Army Much to Chichenn's dismay, Rakovsky s 
act was given broad publicity by the right wing parties in France, 
who wanted to make political capital of it because of imminent elec 
tions Attempts were made to settle the inadent and in the negotia 
tions the French government introduced the issue of the old Russian 
debts At that point Rakovsky commuted another affront when he 
published appeals to French investors in the French press, advising 
them to oppose the settlement proposed by their government In 
mid October Rakovsky had to be recalled 

Earlier that year, in July, a sudden workers’ revolt in Vienna, 
quickly suppressed, came as a complete surprise to the Comintern 
but It was received as the first harbinger of new revolutionary rum 
bhngs m Europe, and one that was particularly welcome in view of 
the miserable collapse of Chinese Communism For the next few 
years Comintern activities in Europe intensified considerably, par 
ticularly after the Great Depression had begun its work of social and 
political dislocation The depression came as a godsend to Stalin, 
not only because it gave a boost to the European Communist parties 



217 


From Treaty of Berlin io Rtse of Nalwnal Socialism 

but also because he could use u as a potent argument against the 
Right opposition in Ru«sia who had warned against any policies 
designed to antagonize Western capitalism, the source of material 
and financial aid m the construction of Socialism At the same time 
the Great Depression also gaxe a boost to right wing elements in 
Europe, and. by this token served to increase Moscow’s fears and 
Moscow’s determination to become self sufficient and powerful In 
this sense the ■world depression and lU political consequences in the 
IVestern ll'orld must be seen as an essential background to the seem 
ingly autonomous development of Stalm s "revolution from above " 
In the early weeks of 1929 the regime decided to expel Trotsk), 
the figurehead and symbol of all intraparty oppositions, from Soviet 
territory When asked whether he might be given refuge in Turkey, 
the government in Ankara at once gave a positive reply But on 
January 50th Liis inov asked the German ambassador to grant 
Trotsky pemussion to Itve m Germany The opposition leader he 
revealed, had categorically refused to go to Turkey In conveying 
Luvinoi s request to the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Dirksen en 
dorsed it by suggesting that Trotsky s presence m Germany svould 
seriously weaken the German Communist party because he ssould 
no doubt make vigorous propaganda for his view's of the Soviet gov 
ernment After all, he wrote our entire policy toward the Soviet 
Union V. as based on our ow n domestic strength and immunity against 
Bolshevik methods But both the Chancellor and the Reich Presi 
dent, hesitant to play with fire, argued against his views, the German 
governments refusal to admit Trotsky was finally made on the pre 
text that his presence in Germany might burden Soviet German 

relations 

Even before the expulsion of Trotsky, Stalin s need for a scapegoat 
on whom he could blame the troubles of the regime had produced an 
affair v\hich caused much concern to the German Embassy and placed 
relations between Berlin and Moscow under a great strain On 
March 7. 1928, when Count Rantzau came to see Chichenn, the 
foreign commissar opened the conversation by saying that he and the 
ambassador must co-operate tn an effort to prevent an extremely 
disagreeable affair, which was about to break from having any unto- 
ward effect on German Soviet relations He said he was referring to 
a public trial in which certain, employees of AEG, the German Gen 
eral Electric Corporauon, ■would be involved The GPU, he said, 



218 


The Incompatible Allies 
was just now arresting the Germans Some time later a message 
reached the embassy from Kharkov, from whence our consulate gen 
eral reported that on the previous day a number of engineers and 
technicians, employees of AEG, had been arrested while delivering 
some turbines to Soviet coal mining corporations Simultaneously 
a large number of Soviet Russian engineers had been arrested All 
those arrested were alleged to have engaged in sabotage, industrial 
espionage, and attempts to establuh contact with the former owners 
of the mines now m emigration Two days later the Soviet press 
broke the story by asserting that there had been a counter revolu 
tionary organization in the I>onets coal mine area, the guiding center 
of which consisted of former owners and shareholders of the mines 
who were in close touch with individual agents of German industrial 
rms and the Polish counter-espionage service Pravda, on March 
10th, elaborated on the story, the arrested individuals, it wrote, had 
received money from their former employers They had allegedly 
been instructed to wage systematic sabotage so that the mines would 
be paralyzed during the coming war of intervention 
Two of the Germans were released ten days after their arrest One 
of them made a detailed report of the way he had been treated which 
would have a familiar ring to anyone who had read accounts of life 
m Soviet jails Three ocher Germans remained among the fifty three 
accused In the trial that was staged, sixteen attorneys argued against 
a battery of five public prosecutors But in the main it tvas Chief 
Prosecutor Krylenko's show From the first day of the trial he ruth 
lessly revealed the nature and purpose of his case AVhat was en 
acted was not an attempt to bring culprits before the bar of justice 
ever a public trial meant to make open mockery of judicial pro- 
ce ure, it was the Shakhty case The purpose of the show — and it was 
asica y a show, a drama — was that of demonstrating to the Soviet 
wor ers the idea of industnahration, to gather them around the 
as m spue of all the well known difficulties, bottlenecks, and 
^levances and most important, to blame all such troubles on 
*^^*'**^**** foreign capitalists, thus distracting the 
Arno* from the serious blunders of Soviet policy 

® three Germans standing trial, our interest was con 
^ engineer Otto and the technician Mayer, the third, 

c nician named Badstieber, had shown himself demonstrably 



219 


from Trraty of Berlin to Jttsg of National Socialism 

neak in the pretrial investigauon making all the confessions that 
v>ere asked of him I attended all the proceedings of the trial and 
the observations I made at the urae have contributed considerably 
to the formation of my judgment concerning Soviet justice which 
presented itself in this and all the show trials jn its most abominable 
and contemptible light I shall never forget Mayers strong and 
highly indignant reaction to the courts allegation that he had 
sabotaged the turbines delivered by hu firm At that point the pre 
sidmg judge Andrei Vyshinsky who nould at critical moments 
take the lead in the proceedings presented to Mayer a confession he 
had signed Mayer admitted that it was indeed his personal signa 
ture but he added that he had signed the document only because he 
had had enough of the prolonged nightly interrogations Further 
more he had had no idea at al] of wbai he was signing since the 
paper ivas in Russian a language he did not know 

Vjshinsky tned to get out of his uncomfortable predicament by 
asking Mayer to confirm that if not he then at least the Russian 
co-defendant Bashkin had been engaged in sabotaging the turbine 
Had not Bashkin inquired about the most suitable means of ac 
complishing that sort of sabotage? Majer not knowing enough Rus 
Sian had not understood Bashkin when he had confessed but now 
he became excited once more and with raised voice and in great 
firmness declared that notone word of it was true Bashkin he cried 
was the most conscientious engineer he had ever met in Russia and 
It had been Bashkin who had constantly been concerned about the 
fate of the turbines That was why he had continually inquired how 
he could take the best possible care of them 

^Vhen Bashkin sitting on the defendants bench heard Mayer 
speak his nenes snapped He sprang from his seat and tears stream 
Jng from his eyes shouted to the large room that Mayer s statement 
I'as true and that his oivn confession was false Vyshinsky at once 
announced a recess 

About forty minutes later when the mat %sas reopened Bashkin 
stood before the court with a pale face in vshich the wrinkles had in 
the meantime become deeper and accused himseJf of being a con ard 
and a liar All of the statements he had made in the pretrial investiga 
tion and in the trial itself he said had been true only his last as 
sertions had been despicable lies Thus the court had saved its 



220 


The Incompatible Allies 
face, but the audience— at least that part of it that had not yet fallen 
completely into a state of psychosis — was richer by an amazing ex 
penence 

For forty two days the court xvas in session In his final speech 
Krylenko demanded the death sentence for nineteen of the accused 
Of the eleven death sentences actually handed down, only five were 
carried out Of the Germans Sadscieber xvas given a suspended jail 
sentence Otto and Mayer were acquitted Four years later, when 
I xvas making a trip through the newly built industrial areas of 
Siberia, I learned by chance that the same Bashkin who had been 
given a long prison sentence at the Shakhty trial was working m one 
of the plants 1 visited I was told that he was one of the best and 
most reliable engineers in the factory 

Domestically, this first of the great show trials of the Stalm era 
probably had the desired effect But for the purpose of discrediting 
specialists and foreigners in the eyes of the Russian people, Moscow 
had seriously jeopardized relations with Germany, she had put a 
glaring spotlight on serious political and economic problems and 
had thus undermined the credit of the regime Chichenn and the 
other officials of the Foreign Commissariat realized this very well 
and from the very beginning they were extremely worried over the 
arrest of the German engineers and the subsequent trial As a mat 
ter of fact, Boris Stem attempted to allay our indignation and per 
turbation by pointing to the choice of Vyshinsky as presiding judge 
Vyshinsky, Stem assured us, could surely be expected to show suf 
ficient Wisdom and moderation not to jeopardize German Soviet 
relations And it is a fact that, at least as far as the German defend 
ants were concerned Vyshinsky did his work with great skill and 
tact, obviously well aware that the German ambassador personally 
was witnessing the trial of the Germans and that tlie latter would 
not hesitate to adopt severe measures if necessary 

I must explain my own and the German Embassy's reaction to the 
Shakhty trial When Count Brockdorff Rantzau first reported the 
arrest of the German technicians to Berlin, he was careful to add 
that Chichenn and the entire NKJD were extremely embarrassed 
by the new GPU move, and that they sympathized with the German 
position but were powerless agamst the political police But his 
tolerant interpretation of the affair was mixed with great bitterness 
an indignation The ambassadors reaction to the trial was in 



221 


From Treaty of Berlin to Kise of National Socialism 

fiuenced by the curious dilemma that, on the one hand, tve anted 
to do our utmost to preserve the Rapallo relationship, while s\e is ere 
determined, on the other hand, to tale no insults from the Russians 
We were against destroying the bridges to Moscow, but ive i\ere 
also lery angry uith the elements in the Soviet state s\ho by thejr 
actions, again and again added to the arguments of tliose who mam 
tamed that any attempt to do business utth Russia was futile The 
defeatist view tsas increasingly being accepted in the Foreign Minis 
try Much as I fought against it emotionally, it forced itself on me 
also 

The embassy's efforts to define the proper course of action in the 
Case was made unnecessarily difhcult by the firm that employed the 
accused Germans The directors of the AEG m the first flush of in 
dtgnation had inuially declared that they would immedtately with 
draw all their engineers who were m Russia mounting machinery, 
regardless of existing contracts A few days later, however, they seem 
to have regretted their impetuosity they withdrew their initial 
declaration, obviously afraid of the losses that would occur because 
of the non fulfillment of contractuil agreements 

The trial of kindermann and Wolscht, during which my personal 
integrity had been publicly questioned in the Soviet press had 
shaken me in my belief that the outside world could fruitfully enter 
into lasting relations with Soviet Russia Even though the wound 
healed after the conclusion of the Treaty of Berlin, a scar remained 
The Sliakhty trial became a turning point in ray attitude toward 
Soviet Russia because it opened the wound anew and deepened my 
disappointment The atmosphere of the entire trial impressed me as 
being profoundly and disgustingly pathological that impression, 
and the uncertainty into which it had once again thrown German 
Soviet relations, produced in me a leaden melancholy that lasted 
through the summer of 1928 I avoided ray Soviet acquaintances, my 
friends, because I did not want to embarrass them, 1 avoided those 
With whom I disagreed because I should only have heaped bitter 
and futile reproach on them 

Two years later a trial was staged against an alleged counter revo 
luiionaty organization of saboteurs and wreckers, the so-called In 
dustnal party (Prompartia) The accused technicians, led by the head 
of the Thermo-Techmcal Insutute m Nfoscow, Professor Ramzin, 
were alleged to have engaged in systemauc sabotage with the purpose 



222 The Incompatible Alhn 

of bringing about an economic crisis and a war of foreign interven 
tion Plans for such intervention, it was asserted, had been worked 
out by them in collaboration with former Russian industrialists and 
the French general staff The purpose of the trial was to ‘ uncover ' 
the causes for the crisis of the fiKt Five Year Plan If the Shakhty 
trial had been staged to ‘ explain’ the crisis in coal producuon, the 
Prorapartia case was to do the same for the crisis in total production 
and the stoppage of supplies of consumers goods 

It is quite probable that there svere some tenuous connections be- 
tween former Russian capitalists and their erstivhile employees, 
even though these connections could scarcely have had political 
significance, doubtless, also, the French intelligence service was 
actively interested m data on Soviet industrialization As in the 
Shakhty trial, the accusations were based on minute shreds of actual 
facts which were enlarged by pure fabrication Nevertheless, the 
Prompartia trial was managed far better than the previous one The 
implication of foreigners in the Shakhty case had been a mistake 
because the methods of the GPU had not been successful with them, 
and the defense had riddled the case the government tried to make 
At the Prompartia affair no foreigners sat on the defendants' bench, 
and the trial was much more successful The accused not only con 
fessed everything but also tried to outdo one another in self accusa 
tions, so that little remained for the prosecutor to do 

2 THE DIRKSEN ERA 

POLITICAL BICKERING 

In the summer of 1928 Count Brockdorff Rantzau was a very lU 
man, he had for a long time contemplated a lengthy furlough, which 
his physician had said was essential to prolong his life Urged on 
him for years the furlough had been postponed again and again 
because one problem after another held the ambassador m Moscoiv. 
or at least Rantzau believed his presence there to be indispensable 
In December, 1925, just after the settlement of the Ruhr conflict, 
he had gone so far as to stay at bis post while his mother lay dying 
in Germany Now the Shakhty case once more made him postpone 
his departure When at last he departed for Germany at the end of 
the summer, he went home not to recuperate but to die 



223 


from Treaty of Berltti to Rise of NaUofial Soctolum 

Rantzau’s death caused Soviet officialdom to break one of its 
most ngid rules, the prohibition against participating in religious 
cerernonies On the ground of lire smct separation between church 
and state in the Soviet Union, and because of their persona! atheism, 
Soviet diplomats had refused to attend tlie funeral masses for Uie 
Italian Dowager Queen and the Lithuanian President When in 
August, 1927, the Berlin diplomatic corps had congratulated Presi 
dent Hindenburg on his eightieth birthday. Krestinsky and his staff 
had been absent because Nuniio Paccllt, the dean of the diplomatic 
corps, in his message of congratulation had proposed to make refer 
ence to the "Highest One svho guides the fate of mankind ’ All this 
was forgotten one year later when the Soviet charge d’affaires, 
Bratman Brodot'sky, attended Rantrau’s funeral 

After the ceremonies Brodovsky took me aside and remarked that 
It Mould be a good idea, from the Kremlin’s point of view, if Her 
ben von Dixksen svere to be appointed Germanys next ambassador 
in Moscow For Dirksen, he said, was trained tn the school of 
von Afaltzan and represenu the spirit of Ranuau "■ Indeed, von 
Dirksen belonged to the very small circle around Count Rantzau 
which comprised, m addition, only Baron von Maluan, Hencke, 
Schlesinger, myself, and perhaps Paul Scheffer 

After von Maltzan s appointment as ambassador in IN^ashington, 
von Dirksen had been the chief representative of Rantzau's policy 
ideas m the Foreign Ministry, occupying Maltzans former position 
as chief of the Ministry's Eastern Division though for a while only as 
deputy chief Until Afay, 1928, his immediate superior had been a 
man who was little interested m Soviet Russia as a political partner, 
an attitude that was annoying to the Rantzau circle W T E Wall 
roth, chief of the Eastern Division until his appointment as minister 
to Norway, ivas one of those who tended to think that the Soviet 
regime could not last much longer and svas therefore a negligible 
factor m world politics His transfer to Oslo and \on Dirksen's 
simultaneous promotion were a source of great satisfaction for 
Rantzau and his entourage 

'Vhen I told von Dirksen about Bratman Brodovsky’s remark at 
Rantzau’s funeral, he wus visibly pleased, for he already had his ej'e 
on the vacant post in Moscow, considering himself, not unjustly, a 
very suitable candidate for it In view of his ambition, it was, of 
course, good to know that the Soviet government would welcome 



224 


The Incompatible Allies 
his appointment That 1 ivas pleased ivhen he was actually given the 
post need not be emphasized The hopes I placed in him were never 
disappointed He possessed human qualities which greatly con 
tributed to an especially pleasant atmosphere in the Moscow Em 
bassy in those years The fact that he demanded more from himself 
than from his subordinates would in itself have been suffiaent to 
earn him their loyalty and respect, but in addition he impressed his 
collaborators by the selflessness which motivated him, the steadiness 
and coolness with which he held to the official business at hand and 
his exemplary devotion to his rvork He approached the many com 
plex political and economic problems that came up day after day 
with such objectivity and such scrupulous attention to detail that 
the honesty of his aims was recognized even by the chronically sus 
picious men in the Kremlin Without doubt, therefore, he was the 
most suitable man to represent German interests in Moscow at a 
time when the maintenance of German Soviet relations demanded 
not only consistency and do^ed persistence but also wise moderation 
in striving for realistic aims 

The period during which Herbert von Dirksen served as German 
ambassador in Moscow was, in Russia, the period of the first Fite- 
Year Plan in Germany it coincided, though not completely, with the 
Great Depression During the first year of his service as ambassador, 
Germany was still at the peak of prosperity With this exception in 
mind. It can nevertheless be asserted that, while von Dirksen was in 
Moscow, both countries were shaken by economic distress, and both 
were in the throes of acute political crisis In Russia Stalin could 
implement his revolution from above only by the most ruthless 
means of coercion and terror, paying for it with acute economic dis 
orders In Germany, after the world crisis had begun to affect her, 
the burden of insecurity, bankruptcies and mass unemployment 
produced political unrest which strengthened the radical parties of 
the Right and the Left to such an extent that the middle of the road 
forces of constitutionalism were crushed and the Weimar Republic 
was wrecked 

Intensely preoccupied with their internal troubles, Germany and 
t e Soviet Union for a number of years somewhat neglected prob 
lems of foreign policy It was not that foreign problems were com 
p etely disregarded but they receded in relative importance behind 
acute domestic issues and increasingly became the shuttlecocks of 



f™. Tr...y 0/ B.rl.n ,0 K.« «/ 

demesne 

faangthetvocounmes cam 

to do uith mtemational p intensified Comintern activity 

dad isolationism nltention Irom her acme in 

vihich lias to'S"'*' llin „„,i„„ed challenge of the reparl 

temal troubles In Germany u forecround, partial 

tions problem Upt lorei^ ^d^the problem more pressing But 
larly after the depression made P , political scene 

there, too, it teas the grots mg crbis^ ^ problems The revival 
tshich gate a f “fd^ected not only against the Western 

otthespintofievistonismtsasd rm ^ repirattons settlement. 

pouers as the authors of 'e moderation at 

but equally, if not fulfillment The grossing anti 

home, the advocates of by a feeling of disap 

IVestem resentment, hotsever. v-as tendency to com 

poimment o^e^ the fruits of 

plain of the cabinets foreign po icy stupid and 

Our diplomatic circles, m turn. ^ and clumsiness 

irksome problems posed by but m 1929, before the 

Trade relatton, ssere tndeed 'o" . bnitness ctrclc, 

beginning o! the “““‘dustr.altralion tilth considerable 

tended to vies* Russia s industrial producu and supplier 

alarm As a purchaser of ^o„,d have been an ideal 

of raw materials and ’ d,j ,„o economies comple 

business partner for Germany tr sufficient industrial Russia, a 
mented each other But 3 c„„modiues, might turn into 

country producing its O"-" should remain a ready 

a competitor, and even if th the new plans for indus 

marUt for German industrial pt business to ad]USt It 

tnalnation nevertheless were loro g dissatislaction and 

self to the netv type of demand lie slightest expression 

grumbling The Russians, in turn ideologically 

of such moods with the greatest shem as imperialist de 

predisposed to expect them an i backward, underdeveloped, 

Les to keep Russia an economically 

• semicolomal" country lor <WCT just as unjustified as 

In my opinion the Krem in s sshich it was based Even an 

the occasional German commmu manage with 

industrialized Russia, I thonght. would 



226 


The Incompatible Allies 
out close economic relations with Germany, and the advantages of 
an intensive commodity exchange with the vast neighbor in the 
East would surely outweigh the inconvenience of adjusting to that 
neighbors changed demands Russia's industrialization would not, 
in the long run, restrict the market for German commodities on the 
contrary, it would create new and increased wants and would in 
evitably lead to the expansion of foreign trade After all, England 
was traditionally the greatest customer for German industrial prod 
ucts even though — or perhaps because — its industries were highly 
developed Of course, when 1 thought that an industrialized Russia 
^vould continue to be dependent on Germany, I took it for granted 
that technologically Germany would always be ahead of the Soviet 
Union 

Observing the anger with which the Russians reacted to German 
expressions of dissatisfaction over her industrialization plans, I 
thought that an authoritative statement by a high ranking policy 
maker, dispelling their worries, was very much needed The oppor 
tunity came early in 1929 On January 9th a ’ German Technology 
Week was to be opened with official ceremonies m an attempt to 
bridge the cultural boundanes between the two countries by ac 
quamting the Moscow public with our technological achievements 
and current research It had been arranged in collaboration with 
erman scientists, and a number of famous men in German science 
had come to Moscow to give lectures about their fields of specializa 
lion The commissar for heavy industry, Kuibyshev, was going to 
speak at the opening of the event, and the new German ambassador, 
too, was invited to participate 

Von Dirksen had arrived in Moscow only two days before As he 
wanted to be duly accredited before his first public appearance he 
werit at once tlirough the customary proceedings, svhile I set out to 
ra t a speech for him He was to dispel, once for all, Soviet suspicion 
^ opposed to their industrialization plans and 

wou sabotage them Instead of svanting to keep Russia a semi 
CO omal agricultural nation, he told his audience, we were watching 
er industrialization efforts with sympathetic interest and would 
terh ^^"^^^^rted aid to them by granting credits and rendering 

shn ^‘^''ice The example of German English trade relations 
that Russia's mdustrialization would serve to intensify 



227 


From Treaty of Berlin to Rise of National Socialism 

German-Soviet commodity exchange, and the speaker promised that 
he would propagate this view politically and penonally The speech 
cleared the atmosphere, politically, of much uneasy suspicion, at 
least for a while, personally il was the best introduciion the new 
ambassador could have guen himself in the Moscow of 1929 It must 
be realized that a certain amount of courage was required to adopt 
and defend ideas that were not shared by significant parts of the 
German business world, and von Dirksen has my respect for showing 
such courage Of course, the scientists w-ho participated in German 
Technology Week were already m full agreement with his speech 
Such diplomatic adroitness, whatever its ephemeral successes, 
could not go deeper than the surface Basically Gerraan-So\ let rela 
tions around 1930 had neither unproved nor cooled They had simply 
become a matter of routine and were taken for granted As far as 
the two Foreign Offices were concerned German-Soviet relations were 
hxed and fixed to mutual satisfaction, by existing political economic, 
and military agreements Everyone was aivare of the mental reserva 
tions with which both partners had entered into their relationship, 
and neither side desired to have the relationship seriously disturbed 
Thus the matter seemed settled and hardly worth discussing 
In this situation the embassy had no opportunity to display great 
statesmanship in high-level negotiations There was nothing impor 
tant to negotiate about Alter the break of relations between Soviet 
Russia and China Berlin had undertaken to represent Soviet inter 
escs in China and Chinese interests m the Soviet Union which caused 
both sides to accuse us of duplicity But there were no really grave 
issues that came up between ourselves and Russia As a curious result 
httle problems were blown up to undue importance, mutual criticism 
and complaints filled the press in both countries at the slightest 
provocation, and much of the diplomats time was wasted on the 
most insignificant difficulties Both countries were so intensely pre 
occupied with their internal affairs that they gave little constructive 
thought to foreign relations Hence the maintenance of friendly rela 
tions with other countries was neglected The recklessness with which 
international issues were used by demagogues in one country boosted 
the same kind of adventurism in the other, and svhile the Soviet 
rulers sought to divert their peoples attention from internal dif 
ficulties by dangling tlie prospects of impending world revolution 



228 


The Incompatible Allies 
before their eyes, professional ana Communism had a field day m 
Germany The presses of the two countries were blasting broadsides 
of invective against each other 

One incident was that of the 1929 hfay Day celebration Because 
the police chief of Berlin, Zorgiebel, had forbidden any demonstra 
lions on that day, Moscow apparently thought that it must speak for 
the German workers who were thus silenced The parade that rolled 
past the Soviet leaders and tlie foreign diplomats in Red Square 
featured a float depicting a pocket battleship of the type then being 
built in Germany The ship was identified by the flags of imperial 
and republican Germany, and large banners told the crowd that 
Germany was letting its workers starve while pouring millions into 
rearmament Ugly caricatures depicting German cabinet ministers 
and the police chief stood on top of the float In a militant speech 
to the parading crowd, Voroshilov made reference to the political 
repression under which the working class smarted in other countries 
and singled the Social Democratic police chief out for attack But he 
continued, the workers would demonstrate m spite of all repression 
There are indications that Comintern circles were in actual fact ex 
pecting a general strike in Germany at that time 

Voroshilov s harangues and the mockery made of the German 
flag were not the only insults dealt out A week after May Day large 
crowds came out for a hostile demonstration in front of our con 
sulate general in Leningrad, and protest meetings were staged in 
numerous factories all over the country to voice Russian sympathy 
with the German working class As usual, the Foreign Commissariat 
went through the motions of apologizing Karakhan promised to 
study Voroshilov’s speech and when the official text was published 
in Izvestiya the offensive passages had been deleted As for the demon 
stration karakhan thought that it was in the nature of a popular 
carnival which could not be cxmtrolled easily, and he suggested that 
It should not be taken too seriously by us since, after all, such dem 
onstrations had by now become a tradition in Soviet Russia Simi 
ar y, he called the deraonstrauon in Leningrad a spontaneous ex 
prewion of public opinion None the less, he assured us that insults 
o t e German flag would not be tolerated again on Soviet territory 
ter that summer leading German Communists were received in 
Kussia with conspicuous honors German ’ barricade fighters of the 
St o fay made a trip through the country, and Young Pioneers 



229 


from Treaty of Berlin to Rue of National Socialism 

from Germany ^\ho had come tor a youth rally i\ere told in an of 
fiaal pamphlet that the demonstration in u'hich they were about to 
participate was to serve the cause of world revolution In January 
1930 a number of German Red Front militja men traveled to the 
Soviet Far East and were officia% received by Rfarshal Blucher At 
an official welcome given them one of the Germans assured the Red 
Army men that the German proletariat would fall on the back of 
Its own bourgeoisie if ever Soviet Russia were attacked 
Early in 1930 ue learned that Soviet trade unions were trying to 
extend Socialist competition to German workers Individuals par 
ticipating m such competition were pledged to resistance against 
imperialist wars and to the defense of the Soviet Union to form Com 
mumst cells m their factories fight agamst the Social Democrats 
subvert the Reichsvvehr and participate in May Day deraonstxa 
ttons International seamen s clubs were spreading Communist prop- 
aganda among German sailors arranging meetings giving lectures 
distributing literature and inciting the sailors against their officers 
and captains Radio Nfoscow meanwhile sharply increased its 
German language broadcasting activity 
The Cone of the entire Soviet press was taking a turn toward in 
science Every German step designed to improve our relations with 
the Western powers arous^ angry comments every German failure 
evoked gleeful derision Prominent political leaders were dragged 
through the mud without discrimination The number and variety 
of pinpricks that were dealt us by Moscow could be described in 
much greater detail from anii German films and dramas to cal 
culated provocations such as having the Soviet steamers Thalmann 
and Max Holz run into German ports where their names would 
have an obviously subversive significance 
In turn every political movement m Germany seemed to have 
some reason for anger and resentment toward tlie Soviet Union The 
nationalist Right seized upon the treatment of the German speaking 
population the antireligious campaign and the open sympathy of 
Moscow with Civil v\ ar and revolt in Germany the moderate Left 
was indignant over the venom poured out over the government 
parties by the Soviet press A general press campaign against Soviet 
politics set in throughout Germany m which every single incident 
was given sensational treatment. The Russians were extremely an 
noyed by our reaction In his last years as foreign commissar Chi 



230 

The IncompaUhle Allies 
Aerm worried much about it and saw m it one of the chief reasons 
for the deterioration of German Soviet relations He thought, for 
instance, that the sharp German reaction to the Shakhty trial had 
been unjustified Similarly, the Foreign Commissariat deplored the 
way in which our press treated collectivization and the campaign 
agamst the kulalcs the systematic efforts to stamp out religion, the 
terror directed against technicians, intellectuals, and political dis 
senters, the sharp rate of taxation adopted under the Five-Year Plan 
and the activities of the Comintern Boris Stem's irritated comments 
m Isvestiya on January 21. 1 930. and February 4, 1930. written under 
the pseudonym ‘ Sovremennik” (The Contemporary), were typical re 
Russians scored the increasing frequency with which 
official and non official dignitaries, from cabinet ministers to cardi 
na were making anti-Soviet pronouncements Izveshya of Kovem 
er , 1930 referred to a mass rally of the League for the Protection 
of Western Culture as a “cannibals meeting ” 

Certain legal decisions irked Moscow intensely There was the case 
against the well known Berlin an dealer Lepke m November. 1928 
p e had undertaken to auction off a number of art objects for 
tie oviet government Among them were some that had originally 
been in possession of individual Russians, and had been nationalized 
y e Soviet government Some Russian emigres obtained injunc 
tions against the action, successfully pleading that Lepke was at 
tempting to sell stolen property More serious was the acquittal of 
a gang of counterfeiters in February, J930, who had circulated large 
quantities of forged chervonets notes The chervonets was the gold 
based currency which the Soviet government had created in 1922 to 
stop i e running inflation of the preceding years During the trial, 
iQnn” Berlin between January 6th and February 8 

, an unhappy atmosphere was created by the aura of politics 
which the case immediately assumed The defendants, a number of 
t-erman citizens and two stateless persons of Georgian origin pleaded 
that their counterfeiting activities had been guided exclusively by 
th^ ° pohtical motives of weakening the Soviet Union and fur 
enng t e cause of Georgian mdependence. and that base motives 
gam had not been involved In turn. Izvestiya, on February 7, 1930. 

defendants as tools m the hands of political adven 
anH o” 3 new war of intervention against the Soviet state, 

manded that the court impose a stiff penalty lest the belief be 



rron. T„a,y o, Brrlm to R,so «/ Nttfovol Somlttn, 231 

seated d.a. all cr.mes 

uhed In h« dupaldies to Berlm. U^e ^ 

dte .d«, and ve ttere a mc« aa „,led *= 

fendants ere roundly acquitt heuireen our two coun 

dtcnon a -aatrophejlor f 

tries, since the raid on the ao horted such ill 

May, 1924, he sa.d, nolh.ns had h^Pl^“f ™ 

In addition the Foretgn difSctilties Soviet stu 

about minor economic discriminations, violations o£ agree- 

dents had encountered in Germany, "“l^'^very Inch 

ments in various matters One matter dealing sMth 

illustrates the maddening lack of recipr y jn 

Sonet Russia, a phenomenon ^ that German 

stance, the Soviet government tho g q 

businessmen and representatives app ^ S embassy m Berlin 

Sovtetunton nere thoroughly ,r.p "a -1= 

and interrogated about the expre^y asked to come by 

people nould receive v ^ , x^j/to ask Soviet economists 
Soviet economic agencies But into my office and tell 

for whom a German Visa was reques ^ _a-v the Soviet govern 

me about the purpose of dietr trip ° J’^'letm: Lt we 
ment lodged such emphatic had more leverage 

had to abandon it In such repressive^ measures, which we 

because it could threaten and app y P began to restrict 

could not sc easily do Thu, die Sov.et Snvc nm “ b P 
the issuance of visas to German wh.ch 

German Embassy began German firms affected which we 

led to protests on the part of th 

“tS were a lew tSov.« 

lieges, early in February, ' |° „g diat its chief had violated 

Munich were raided on a warra eg anti in August, 1932, an 

German laws by tr) mg to „ mio the Soviet Consulate 

officer of the criminal police forc^ „hich we had to apologue On 
General at Konigsberg. an. act or Treaty of Berlin, 

the occasion of the fourth anmve anti Soviet campaign that 
Izvestiya complained that the months, fed by legal deci- 

has been reigning m Germany ^ considerably shaken the 

sions and demonstrations of 



232 


The Incompatible Allies 
structure for which the foundaaon was laid in Genoa in 1922 and 
added pointedly that the German government had not moved a finger 
to end the press campaign The tactics of the German government 
give the impression that it approves In conversations with us 
Litvinov expressed fears that the anti Soviet current in German 
public opin ion could get so much out of hand that Berlin might see 
itself obliged to change the course of its foreign policies Boris Stein 
too complained bitterly about the attitude of the German press Out 
side the NKID he said no one still believes in Germany s good 
will toward Soviet Russia Stresemann s death was made the occasion 
for plaintive comments in Soviet circles He had been roundly dis 
trusted at first but the NKID had gradually become convinced that 
he would not abandon the policy of friendship with East and Uest 
alike They were not so sure about Dr Julius Curtius his successor 
In reporting such conversations AmbassadorvonDirksenurgedthe 
new foreign minister to make a show of good will Disturbing in 
cidents he pointed out had always occurred to mar the good rela 
tions between Germany and Soviet Russia but they had never stood 
m the way of positive collaboration if both parties wanted it Von 
Dirksen suggested that the maintenance of friendly international re 
lations was something on which two governments would have to work 
continually and he thought Berlin might have shown a little more 
eagerness to maintain Moscow s friendship One thing the Soviet 
statesmen could not fail to notice was that not a single German 
foreign minister or undersecretary of foreign affairs had ever visited 
the Soviet Union quite in contrast to the practice of other countries 
Moreover recent suggestions by Moscow that German business levd 
ers come for a visit had remained completely without an echo in 
Germany Nor had the German press taken notice of Litvinovs 
friendly and understanding remarks about Germany in a speecli he 
had made before the Central Executive Committee in December 
1929 Dirksen thought that Berlin should take the initiative He 
suggested that Soviet fears be allayed by a public declaration which 
the foreign minister should make before the Reichstag denying diat 
Germany had changed her attitude toward Russia hforeover lead 
mg German personalities should visit Moscow in a show of cordiality 
At the time the ambassador made these proposals mutual com 
p ainu some of them over rather petty grievances had come to be 



233 


From Treaty of Berlin to Rise of National Socialism 

virtually the only business that t\as transacted in the t>vo embassies, 
except for important economic transactions E\er since the end of 
1929, when the German cabinet had authorized the foreign minister 
to clear the slate of mutual complaints with Afoscow, krestmshy in 
Berlin and "Non Dirksen m Moscow spent much time with the foreign 
ministers of their guest countries, complaining about untoward 
incidents, questioning each other's motives, and criticizing each 
other’s system of government All the bitterness that had gathered 
m recent jears was spilled in an amazing and unprecedented cathar 
sis of vvhidi one of the most surprising features was the frankness 
with which Germans and Russians discussed their mutual shortcom 
mgs The discussions between krcstinsky and von Schubert were 
marked by flares of temper and an entirely ‘'undiplomatic ’ candid 
ness Both embassies and foreign ministries were busy preparing 
exhaustive briefs of complaint, and an untold number of hours was 
spent by ambassadors and their aides over arduous bargaining, in 
which one insult was weighed against another, and formal denials 
were traded hke rare commodities, with the most smazwg concern 
for detail The purpose of the discussions was to make a clean slate 
of all the grievances that had mounted, and each side demanded 
that the other give firm assurances and indications of its good will 
The Germans wanted an open declaration from the Soviet govern 
ment dissoaating itself from international, and particularly Ger 
man. Communism The Russians in turn demanded no more than 
a public affirmation that Germany continue to conduct its foreign 
policy in the spirit of Rapallo 

However, even these modest demands were more than either 
partner was willing to concede Eager as Krestinsky was in von Schu 
ben s office to deny all ties between the kremlin and the Comintern, 
Moscow found it utterly impossible to make such a denial in public 
And though the German foreign minister, prodded by his ambas 
sador, might have thought it reasonable to swear once more by the 
Spirit of Rapallo, he anxiously sought to avoid giving the 3Vest even 
die slightest suspicion of a new German turn towrard Soviet Russia 
Both csfiiTjWies ibrus avoided any public canrmitments 

By the beginning of Afay both parties had agreed to transfer the 
enure discussion to a joint arbitration commission that was to meet 
in Moscow! at once A German Soviet communique, still to be drafted. 



234 


The Incompatible Allies 
was to announce the first meeang of the commission Here too 
Curtius and Chancellor Heinnch Bruning were determined to avoid 
giving any impression that Germany was even in the most cautious 
manner, opting for the East Other problems came up when the 
communique was to be written Negotiations about it conducted 
by Litvinov and von Dirksen lasted literally for weeks Every word 
every shade of meaning became the cause of disagreements A Get 
man draft contained references to mutual guarantee of non inter 
erence The reason that this phrase had been inserted was not only 
to have Moscow s promise not to interfere in German internal af 
German public opinion a certain guarantee 
and thus to make the continuation of friendly German Soviet rela 
tions politically palatable Without such a phrase Curtius thought 
he would have a difficult time before the Reichstag But the Russians 
rejected the wording on the ground that they could be interpreted 
by the world as a Soviet admission that there had been interference 
e ore The Russian draft in turn contained the sentence Both 
governments are agreed that no attempts to influence the internal 
^airs of the other country actively must be made just as heretofore 
The German ambassador objected to the last three words for they 
seemed to give the impression that there had net been any Soviet 
interference before The Soviet draft in as preamble contained tlie 
Statement that in the relations between Germany and the Soviet 
Union a number of problems had naturally come up in the course 
of time which required to be dispersed in the interest of continued 
good relations Von Dirksen objected to the word naturally and 
the discussions over it seemed never to end A compromise was finally 
reached the words naturally and just as heretofore were omitted 
and more emphasis was given to the Treaty of Rapallo The full text 
read like this 

In the relations between Germany and the Soviet Union a number of 
^estions have arisen in the course of time which need to be cleared up in 
e interest of carrying on mutual friendly relations The two governments 
ave t erefore made the totality of these questions the subject of compre 
ensive iplomatic discussions which have taken place in ^foscow and 
in uring the past weeks and have now reached a certain conclusion 
mutual individual grievances has already been cleared up 
^ these conversations the remaining questions are to be sub- 
o an arbitration commission as provided for in the agreement of 



235 


From Treaty of Berlin to Rise of National Socialism 

January 25, 1929, >vhich shall gather once yearly about the middle of the 
year, and which wdl this year meet on June I6tlt in Afoscow for its ordi 
nuy session 

In dealing with the existing individual problems both gosemments agree 
in beginning with the desire to overcome the difficulties that have arisen 
in the spirit of the Rapallo Treaty and the other treaties m existence 
betneen them, and thus to continue the policy they have for long years 
conducted on the basis of these treaues even under new international devel 
opments. In open discussions they have once again become clearly aware 
that the principal difference ol the two governmental systems need be no 
obstacle to the fruitful development of their friendly relations At the same 
time both governments b^n with the acknotvledgment that no attempts 
to influence the internal affairs of the other country actively must be made 
Both governments arc resolved to cultivate mutual relations on this basis 
and to grapple with tasks that will come up m the future whether these 
tasks concern the immediate relationship between the two countries or 
other ijuations touching their mteresis They are com meed that they will 
m this caanner further not only the benefit of their own countries but also 
the secuniy of world peace 


ECONOMIC RELATIONS 

The period of von Dirksen’s service as ambassador m Moscow was 
the time of the most intensive economic collaboration between the 
two countnes It began very auspiciously with the signing of a so- 
called “arbitration agreement ‘ on January 25, 1929, tn Moscow 
Such an agreement had been discussed ever since the beginning of 
the previous year, when the President of the Soviet State Bank, Aaron 
Sheinman, had gone to Berlin for broad discussions of various eco- 
nomic problems These discussions were broken off m March, 1928, 
because of the Shakhty trial, and were resumed only after Count 
Rantzau’s death According to a joint protocol signed tn Moscow 
on December 21, 1928, the newly resumed talks had the preliminary 
aim of giving precision and clarity to moot points in the treaties 

of October 12.1925 

In the course of these discussions the German delegation expressed 
the desire for a permanent arbitrauon machinery to settle any sub 
sequent differences of opinion over existing treaties and agreements, 
^d the Russians agreed forthwith On Ae basis of these propos 
als, an agreement v\ as signed by Litvinov and von Dirksen which pro 



236 


The Incompatible Allies 
vided that any disputes which would not be settled by routine diplo- 
matic negotiation be submitted to a mediation commission that 
would be composed of an equal number of German and Soviet deI^ 
gates two from each country This commission was not to be a court 
of arbitration that could make binding decisions but one that would 
merely work out compromises which could then be submitted to the 
two governments for ratification The Germans had hoped that pro- 
visions could be made for a neutral arbiter to be designated as chair 
man which would have given the commission more the character 
of a real arbitration court but the Soviet go\ ernment refused to dis 
cuss such an appointment because it did not believe anyone could be 
really neutral in relation to Soviet Russia In the protocol accom 
panying the agreement this was phrased in more diplomatic Ian 
guage The Soviet government the protocol read considers the 
appointment of a neutral chairman unnecessary in view of its good 
relations with Germany At the same time the way was left open for 
a neutral arbiter in special cases 
The German Soviet mediation commission created in this agree 
ment was to meet once a year alternately m the German and the 
Soviet capital and the first meeting took place in Moscow in June 
and July of 1930 to discuss political and economic grievances be 
tween the two countries Much had been lost by default in the pre- 
ceding yean and little had been accomplished since the SOO million 
credit transaction of 1926 During the years of prosperity German 
business had tended to regard trade with Soviet Russia as a risky 
undertaking made difficult by petty formalism tiresome baigaining 
and an annoying fear of responsibility on the part of the Soviet 
negotiators Hence as German exports rose to the value of H billion 
reichsmarks annually no more than 3 per cent of the total exports 
went to the Soviet Union Little Denmark purchased more goods 
rom Germany than Russia and our trade balance with the Sosiet 
Union changed little in 1929 The German share of Soviet imports 
was barely half of what it had been before the war even though 
Article 1 of the economic treaty of 1925 had stipulated that the 
proportion of Russian purchases in Germany should approximate 
those of prewar times 

firms were incensed at the discriminatory manner in which 
^ e ussians placed orders so as to play country against country and 
rm against firm making purchases in other countries for political 



237 


Ftom Trtaly of Derhn to Rix of f^altonal Socialism 

reasons The benefits Moscow dern ed from Uie foreign trade monop- 
oly and the prisileges of its trade representation had become quite 
obiious We became painfully asiare that German business nas 
Mrtually being eliminated from all middle man positions in German 
SoMei trade Derutra and Soivtorgflot had a monopoly on shipping 
Gossirakh on the insurance business and so on The trade repre 
seniation itself engaged in direct sales of Soviet foodstuffs At the 
same time Moscow directed sharp attacks against all and any at 
tempts on our part to coordinate German business dealings with 
the Soviet Union through a centra! agency On the whole it had be- 
come clear that the principle of most fat ored nation treatment 
coupled with these special privileges for Soviet agencies offered far 
greater advantages to the Russians than to us so that there svas a 
fundamental imparity 

The question of alleged Souet dumping played a great role after 
the beginning of the first Five ^ ear Plan It uas asserted in the West 
that Russia sold goods below cost in order to rum the foreign tnde 
of other countries and on the basis of this accusation sharp eco- 
nomic warfare set in between Soviet Russia and the West Moscow 
answered these claims by indignant protests against the new hour 
gecus conspiracy and roundly denied that lU prices were below cost 
If they were below ivorld market prices wrote the commissar of for 
eign trade Rosengolis tlie reason was that all middle men were 
excluded in the Soviet economy * ActuaJl) it ivas e'ttremely difficult 
to deiennine the actual cost of Soviet commodities But the foreign 
trade monopoly enabled the Soviet government to let political con 
siderations help determine its export policies the placing of orders 
and the fixing of a price Nor could the Russians deny that they 
were actually doing these things and were doing them suddenly 
so that there was an additional factor of surprise which was even 
more effective in times of crisis Hence there were grounds for com 
plaints particularly among the agrarian countries of Eastern Europe 
which suffered most under Soviet conipcijiion On the other hand 
the V olume of Soviet exports was never large enough to affect world 
market conditions by whatever practices were adopted so that the 
clamor of the antidumping campaign was not fully justified More- 
os er no one w ho mentions the subject should forget that Soviet ex 
port prices ivere to a considerable extent determined also by the 
Oct 22 1530 



238 


The Incompatible Allies 


purchasers of Russian goods The Western importer knew very well 
hoTv desperately Moscow was seeking gold or hard currency and if 
they could get away with it they oflEered prices so low that they were 
often less than the cost of production IE such offers were accepted by 
the Russians it was because the Soviet government did not mind the 
loss None the less there is no reason to disbelieve the former Soviet 


trade representative who writes that the prune task of the foreign 
trade delegates abroad was to try to get better prices fighting for 
every dollar of gold that could be squeezed out * 

Another issue clouding the atmosphere of German Soviet trade 
relations at the time of von Dirksen $ arrival m Moscow was that 
of the Russian prewar debts TTiough the Rapallo Treaty had in ef 
feet canceled all claims between the two countries arising out of the 
war or out of prewar obligations some fears were now voiced that by 
the treaty Germany might have thrown away some valuable trump 
cards There were a number of German concerns that could never 
forget how much they had lost in Russia through nationalization 
outstanding among them were the mining firms who had once owned 
valuable manganese deposits in the Caucasus A few weeks after the 
death of Count Brockdorff Rantzau some of these old creditor firms 
participated in establishing an international committee for the pro 
tection of Russian bond owners against the sharp protest of the 
Foreign Ministry which desperately tned to prevent such participa 
tion on the part of German firms 
From the beginning of his term as ambassador von Dirksen sought 
to revive and extend German trade relations with Soviet Russia 
by encouraging longterm credit transactions technical aid an 
close cultural interchange In his advocacy of further generous credits 
he was at first handicapped by the external reparations problem 
during 1929 Berlin was discussing the Young plan of determining 
the reparations burden and the Reich government was unwillmg 
to make any promises before the weighty question was decided ^Vhat 
aided von Dirksen s efforts was however the beginning of world eco- 
nomic crisis coinciding as it did with the Soviet first Five Year Plan 
Intensive Russian demands for machines and other industrial prod 


ucts were created at the very moment when under the impact of the 


‘Alexander Barniine One Who Survived (New York C P Putnami Sons 
1945) p 1 5 



Ffotn T Italy 0 / Bttliti to Jttit of Nattonul Socialism 239 

depression Gennany’s foreign trade began to shrink rapidly and her 
industry was more desperate than ever for customers 
At the close of 1929 hfoscow still owed roughly one tenth of the 
SOO million credit it had obtained in 1926 But further credits had 
been granted in subsequent years to finance orders placed in Ger 
many, and these debts, too, had not yet been fully liquidated From 
all these transactions the SoMCt government still ov>ed almost 80 
million reichsmarks In view of Germany's economic difficulties, the 
Ministry of Finance seemed tcry disquieted by this figure Some 
leading officials were haunted by the fear that the Russians might 
stop paying e\en for a short time, which might have had disastrous 
consequences These fears were not shared, however, by those who 
made economic policy in the Foreign Ministry As a matter of fact, 
through the efforts of Schlesmger. the SOO million aedit had already 
been made into a revolving credit In other words, the installments 
paid by the Russians were plowed back into the credit for further 
purchases As a consequence, the actual Soviet debt was still around 
300 million reichsmarks This revolving of the credit had been done 
quietly and without publicity, all official discussions had been 
avoided not only to forestall the its and buis ol the German doubters 
but also to prevent the Soviet negotiators from using pressure to 
obtain even better conditions Moreover, Schlesmger would have 
been loath to give the Russians the political victory of open credit 
negotiations, which would once again have demonstrated to the 
world the close lies binding the two countries together For a while 
he tried to organue a credit deal m co-operation with American fi 
nanaal interests, but the project failed over the objections of Karl 
Ritter, the then chief of the Economic Division m the Foreign Min 
istry Late in January, 1930, alter an intensive exchange of views 
with Schlesmger, the ambassador dispatched a lengthy memorandum 
to his superiors pleading for German initiative in getting a new 
credit transaction going He pointed out that previous negotiations 
had been interrupted in the spring of 1929 with the promise that 
they would be resumed after the settlement of the reparations prob- 
lem This promise Jbewrotfv-jibould not be Jeft unfulfilled Brincrinj- 
up all the old arguments in favor of generous credits, he pleaded for 
a grant of no less than 300 million, and demanded that it be made 
revolving Such a longterm investment, he argued, would be re 



240 The Incompatible Allies 

garded as a token of good will and would yield corresponding po- 
litical benefits He even insisted on dramatizing the new credit by 
sending an official delegation to Russia and organiting appropriate 
public ceremonies 

Von Dirksen’s views were seconded in Berlin by Hans von Raumer, 
the head of the German arbitration commission, who had returned 
from Moscow with rather positive impressions, and in this way his 
memorandum actually initiated a neiv credit transaction of the type 
he had suggested 'Within a year after the new credit had been 
granted, German exports to the Soviet Union rose very sharply, with 
imports from Russia lagging behind, to Moscow s great disappoint 
ment The total value of Soviet orders placed in Germany during 
1931 reached the record sum of 919 2 million reichsmarks If several 
important German manufacturing firms particularly m the field of 
tool machinery weathered the depression and could be put to work 
by Hitler m his rearmament efforts after 1 935, it was due exclusively 
to the Soviet orders which kept them in business Thus m the first 
half of 1932, Soviet Russia purchased 50 per cent of all the cast iron 
and nickel exported by Germany, 60 per cent of all earth moving 
equipment and dynamos sold abroad, 70 per cent of all metalwork 
mg machines 80 per cent of cranes and sheet metals, and as much 
as 90 per cent of all steam and gas turbines and steam presses Oer 
many exported There were German firms in those years, who v>ere 
creditors of the Soviet Union in amounts up to 100 per cent of their 
capital stock, and who could do business with Russia only with the 
help of Reich default guarantees Of course, this was not a healthy 
state, and it used to worry everyone concerned But these German 
firms were certainly aware that they owed their survival to the big 
customer in the East and the German government clearly realized 
that without the Soviet market unemployment in Germany would 
be even more serious than it already was 

The Soviet Five Year Plan helped to relieve German unemploy 
ment in still another way Hundreds or even thousands of German 
technicians and engineers who were unemployed or facing unem 
ployment were engaged by the Soviet government as specialists to 
aid m the industrialization of the country Their number was so great 
that the German Embassy had to organize a school for their children 
in Moscow and was forced to deal with various special problems, 



241 


From Treaty of Berlin la Btse of A^attonal Socialism 

like those created by mixed marriages of German technical personnel 
sMth Soviet women 

In consequence of this intensified exchange of commodities and 
skills interest in the Soviet Union was sery high at that tune In 
1930 and 1931 German business circles turned to the Foreign Min 
istry with requests for information about the general situation in 
Soviet Russia and Berlin requested me to go on a tour through Ger 
many to give public talks and private consultation about possibilities 
of further increases m German exports to the Soviet Union Inevita 
bly I faced packed lecture halls and keenly interested industrialists 
indicating a widespread inclination m those years to do business 
vnih the Russians In Berlin alone m the course of about ten days 
1 received more than two hundred business leaders who were inter 
ested m Soviet trade 

It was this attitude which prompted a number of leading German 
industrialists to make a visit co Soviet Russia in the spring of 1932 
A trip like that had often been discussed and less important groups 
of business representatives had made occasional trips to Russia But 
in January 1931 Gngon Konstantinovich Ordrhonikidre the chair 
man of the Supreme Economic Council invited an impressive list of 
prominent industrial leaden to discuss with him to what extent 
Cerraan industry might assist the Five \ear Plan by supplying ma 
chinery and other essential products TTie Foreign Alinistry was kept 
informed of the negotiations for the visit but it was not directly in 
solved which was very much to its satisfaction since the phobia 
against showing any particular intimacy with the Russians had by 
then become well ingrained Moreover Schlesinger feared that the 
mam purpose of the invitation was to bail American industrial firms 
to do greater business with Russia 

The group that left Berlin on February 26 1931 for a two weeks 
trip to Russia included some of the most illustrious names of Cer 
many 5 heavy industry ^Vorld famous producers of steel machinery, 
3nd electrical equipment lifceKrUpp Borsig Klockner AEG MAN, 
Uemag and Veremigte Stahlwerke were sending their top executives 
to Moscow for exploratory talks They wanted orders andtheKrem 
bn wanted credits Ac first the Russians seemed to believe that they 
could have the capitalists ra their pockea by merely making their 
mouths water at die prospect of huge sales For they immediately 



242 The Incompatible Allies 

dangled big deals before their eyes, talking vaguely about orders 
amounting to over a billion reichsmarks At the same time they de 
manded commensurate credits They were greatly disappointed when 
the delegation declared that they had come in order to look around 
and not to close business deals This, in turn, was no more than a 
device which gave the Germans a tactical advantage Before the 
delegation left the Soviet Union, an agreement had been reached 
that an additional 300 million reichsmarks’ worth of orders would 
be accepted This led at once to discussions as to how the new orders 
should be financed The suggestion was even made to adjust all 
German Soviet economic relations to the Soviet Five Year Plan, but 
It was not pursued very far On March 24, 1931, the Reich cabinet 
agreed to give default guarantees for the additional 300 million 
credit, and two weeks later Grigori Pyatakov came to Berlin to dis 
cuss and sign the so<aIIed Pyatakov Agreement, which specified the 
precise conditions of the transaction 

MY INFORMATION TRIP THROUGH THE SOVIET UNION 

“The first Five Year Plan must be fulfilled and will be fulfilled in 
four years’ Under this slogan the Soviet government raised to the 
very limit the demands for output and self sacrifice which it put to 
the population The beginning of the plan, originally set for October 
1, 1928 was later moved to January 1, 1929, when the fiscal year was 
made to coincide with the calendar year But after three years had 
passed it was announced that the production goals of the Five-Year 
Plan must be fulfilled by the end of 1932, that is, within four years, 
and that this required one last heroic effort From the preceding 
pages It appears obvious that German business circles were ex 
tremely keen on determining whether the astounding Soviet claims 
concerning their successes in industrializing their country were true, 
and to what extent the gigantic effort connected with the industriali 
zation affected the solvency of the Soviet government and the morale 
of the population Moreover, the German firms who had sold ma 
chinery to the Soviet Union were vitally interested in finding out 
what was being done with their products, whether they were being 
utilized efficiently, and whether there was anything to the rumors 
that much precious industrial equipment was being left to spoil 
because of faulty handling or negligent treatment 



24S 


From Treaty of Berbn to Rise of National Socialism 

The information ive obtained hrom the numerous German experts 
svorking m the Soviet Union tras insufficient and did not enable us 
to form a reliable and exhaustive impression of tlie situation because 
It was of a sporadic nature and, in many instances, t\as strongly dis 
torted by the bias of the informants Only a personal inspection 
could give a somewhat correct esbmate of what actually went on in 
the great many new industrial enterprises of the Ural Mountains 
and Siberia 

On the basis of these considerations, and because of the initiative 
of Moritz Schlesinger, a plan for an information trip through the 
new industrial areas of the Soviet Union was conceived, a trip in 
which he and I were to be accompanied by Otto Nfossdorf of the 
Soviet Union desk m the Reich Ministry of the Economy 

At first Moscow had grave doubt about such a trip But we made 
it clear that further German credits would become available only 
if we were convinced that die money was being invested intelligently 
Finally, the Soviet government gave us agreement, but only on the 
condition that we should not go alone, but should be accompanied 
by an official of the Foreign Commissanat who would allegedly facili 
tate our contact with local officials and factory managers We had 
no choice except to agree, though we were fully convinced that our 
companions mam task would be to curb our curiosity, if necessary 
These fears proved to be partly unjustified Our companion mam 
fested a very agreeable reticence, and many of the factory managers 
were extremely proud and eager to demonstrate their achievements 
to us as fully as possible, as a consequence we were shown far more 
than we had ever hoped to see In general, the mania for secrecy in 
the Soviet Union had not yet reached the excesses with which it is 
being practiced today 

We started our trip in the second half of August, 1932, and re 
turned to Moscow in the middle of October Our route was about as 
follows Moscow, Saratov, Stalingrad, Rostov, Korthem Caucasus 
(for a visit to the German agricultural concession Drusag), Baku, 
Tiflis, Batum Crimea, Kharkov, Moscow, Magnitogorsk, Chelja 
binsk, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, Kuznetsk (Stalinsk), Prokopevsk, 
Moscow Although twenty years have passed since I took the tnp, 1 
still have a very vivid recollection of its different stages There were 
a number of outstanding impressions that I brought home with me 
first, the grandiose scale of the industrial enterprises and the bold 



244 The Incompatible Allies 

ness of their planning second ihe unspeakable demands s\hich the 
Soviet government made on the populations ability to suffer and 
do without third the striking discrepancy betv\ een the ultramodern 
technical equipment of the factories and the primitive nature of the 
methods used in accomplishing the necessary auxiliary tasks fourth 
the tenacity and the hope and the courage shown by die technical 
personnel even though the difficulties often seemed insuperable 
fifth the enthusiasm that had taken hold of some of the young ivork 
ers and finally the rapid speed with which even members of primi 
live tribes learned how to handle the most modern technical devices 

Just a year before I had visited the Stalingrad tractor plant and 
made an exhaustive inspection of it so that I did not learn anything 
new about it this time But I was struck by the fact that a single 
year had been enough to put the valuable foreign made tool machin 
ery most of it made in the United States and Germany m a state of 
wear and tear that ten or fifteen years could hardly have done in the 
■\Vest And when we saw a great many other Soviet mdustnal enter 
prises among them the great ball bearing works in Moscow we be 
came convinced that the Stalingrad tractor plant was no exception 
in this respect ^V^lerever we went in the Soviet Union we saw a de 
preciation of machinery and a decay of buildings only recently 
erected which was more rapid than a Westerner could imagine I 
am told that not much has changed in this respect since the war so 
that anyone who warns to esiimaie ihe present Soviet mdustnal po- 
tential will have to calculate a much higher depreciation rate than 
that customary in the West 

On the other hand my trip did not confirm the widespread rumors 
that a large proportion of machinery purchased abroad by the Soviet 
government was left to rot under the open sky because the buildings 
that were to house it had not been finished and because the technical 
personnel required for expert mounung was lacking On the con 
trary I noted that eien young and inexperienced Soviet technicians 
showed surprising skill and mgoimty in mounting industrial equip- 
ment With the most primitive means and lacking some of the dc 
vices which are considered utterly essential in the West things were 
done m the Soviet Union that often would amaze foreigners "Yet 
all this was accomplished with such an enormous expenditure of 
capital and with such tremendous demands ort the energies of all 



245 


From Treaty of Berlin to Rise of National Socialism 
concerned that I asked myself how long the population could stand 
the pressure 

Owing to the ruthlessness with which agricultural enterprises were 
being collectivized, there was no lack o£ labor force wherever rndus 
trial establishments svere being set up But the construction of divell 
mgs for the laborers was far, fat behind the minimal requirements 
Hence the factory workers, men and women, who svished to find 
shelter around Stalingrad, Magnitogorsk, or Kuznetsk, had to live in 
caves which they dug in the nearby hills If people could exist and 
accomplish useful work under such living conditions and with the 
great shortage of foodstuffs and consumer goods, it could be ex 
plained only by the proverbial fact that the Russian population was 
not used to much else except suffering and want This applied par- 
ticularly to the Eastern nationaliues from among whom a substantial 
part of the workers in the new industrial establishments was re 
cruited 

In contrast to the conditions we found in the Ural area and in 
Siberia, Transcaucasia offered a much friendlier picture Particularly 
in Baku, which I had known well before the First AVorld War, I was 
surprised by the progress chat had been made m building dwellings 
for the workers Cities like TiBis and Batum, too. did not seem to 
share the extremely low Inzng standard of the population in other 
parts of the Soviet Union 

Sverdlovsk, in the Ural Mountains, had turned from a picturesque 
provincial town of Old Russia into a vast and bleak industrial center 
We were put up in a hotel which had been built two years before, 
yet owing to the use of third rate building materials and to neglect 
It already showed the most pitiful signs of decay Moreover, its 
washrooms and privies were in a stale that defied description, which 
substantially lessened our feeling of comfort All the more surpns 
mg, and typical of the contrasts that have always been characteristic 
of Russia, was the fact that Sverdlovsk could boast of two theaters 
whose operatic and dramatic productions could easily have stood 
comparison with the achievements of the best Moscow stages 

One of the sights I saw while staying in Sverdlovsk was the house 
in which on July 17, 1918, the last tsar and his family were killed 
by the bullets of Bolshevik hangmen so that they would not fall into 
the hands of the Whites and become symbols of counter revolution 



246 The Incompatible Allies 

aiy resistance The modest d-weUmg in which the family of the tsar 
had spent their last months had belonged to a railroad engineer 
named Tpatyev, and the Bolsheviks had made it into some sort of 
national monument An official guide led me to tlie dark cellar and 
showed me the bullet marks m the wall He called my attention 
to the fact that they were only knee hi^, and said, in explanation 
‘The people who received their just deserts here at the hands of 
revolutionary justice had millionsof human lives on their conscience 
They themselves, however, did not have courage enough to face 
death standing up, but sank to their knees like cowards 

The idea that some people might kneel down to call to their God 
in the presence of death seemed to be beyond the man’s mental 
horizon 

In Afagnitogorsk I was greatly impressed by the giant blast fur 
naces, built after the newest American models, with a capacity of a 
thousand metric tom each and I marveled at the nearby 'magnet 
mountain with its inexhaustible stores of high grade iron ore which 
can he dug from the surface and which forms the basis of an annual 
production of 2 4 million metric tons of pig iron 

An iron and steel works of equal size was just being built in 
Kuznetsk (today called StaUnsV) It is based on the rich coal seams 
of Prokopevsk. where I went down into the pits and spent several 
hours underground There too the contrasts of Soviet industrializa 
tion were manifested by the co existence of the most modern technical 
equipment with the use of some of the most primitive methods of 
work 

I have already indicated the eagerness with which most plant man 
agers fulfilled our wishes and answered our questions Of course, 
there were exceptions A young engineer in a Batum oil refinery re 
fused to give me some infonnation which I could have found in 
every pertinent textbook I had to complain about this needless 
secrecy mongenng to the director of the refinery and to our Soviet 
companion until I finally elicited the harmless bit of information 
In Stalingrad the manager pleaded ignorance when I asked about 
the purpose of a large building that was just being erected immedi 
ately in front of his office windows I later discovered that it was 
the beginnings of a tank factory that was to be connected with the 
nearby tractor works 

It was at a factory vn Chelyabinsk that I found the engineer Bash 



From Treaty of Berltn to Rise of National Soctaltsm 247 

km about whose behavior dunng the Shakhty trial, in the summer 
o£ 1928, 1 have already told The man who told me about his presence 
made much of the excellent services which Bashkin had meanwhile 
rendered during the construction of the plant I took this incident 
as one of the many examples of the wanton and capricious brutality 
with which the Soviet regime makes everyone serve its purposes 

ONCE MORE, A SOVIET TRIAl- 

The chancery of the German Embassy stood in a narrow lane 
which was, in von Dirksen's time, still called Leontyevski Pereulok In 
1938 it was renamed Ulitsa Stanisslavskogo, in honor of the famous 
Russian theater director who had died shortly before At the end of 
this narrow lane, where it meets with Ulitsa Gertsena, five shots were 
fired on Saturday, March 5, 1932, at one thirty in the afternoon They 
were aimed at a car belonging to the German Embassy, and m which 
my good friend and colleague, Counselor of Embassy Fritz von 
Tv'.ardowski, was sitting The first bullet grazed his neck, very close 
to the artery The second smashed a few bones of his left hand, which 
he had lifted in an immediate reflex movement Two other bullets 
missed, and the last one lodged in the back rest of the seat In view 
of the proximity of the embassy, there was never a lack of Soviet secret 
police in leontyevski Pereulok, and the would be assassin was seized 
at once and taken away Von Twardowski had sufficient presence 
of mind to order the driver to take biin at once to the nearby Krem 
lin Hospital There medical aid was administered 
From the beginning there was no doubt that the plot had been 
aimed against the ambassador himself Von Dirksen was saved only 
by chance circumstances Contrary to his custom, he had not gone 
home at one twenty by the usual route, but had left the embassy a 
few minutes earlier in the opposite direction for he wanted to do 
an errand in town Had von Dirksen been m the car instead of von 
Twardowski, the assassination would probably have succeeded, for 
the much larger body of the ambassador would have presented a 
much better target for the bullets than that of his assistant 
A canaas concicenaCion oi' crrcurasmnces aiVo savecf me tfte ex 
perience of being in front of a murderer’s weapon Von Twardowski 
and I usually rode to lunch together because our residences v.ere in 
the same direction On this day too he had called me before leaving 



248 The Incompatible Allies 

and asked whether I wanted to jom him as usual But I had 3 ust re 
turned from a meeting in the Commissariat of Finance and I wanted 
to write a report about the talks before the week end Five minutes 
later the shots rang out There is no doubt that one of us would have 
been killed if sve had gone together 
For the Soviet governmenl it was an extremely disagreeable in 
cident The political and economic situation in Russia at that time 
was marked by the consequences of forced collectivization and the 
suffering deprnation ivbich the execution of the first Five Year Plan 
demanded of the Soviet population The Kremlin would have done 
anything to prevent its relations with Germany from getting worse 
particularly since the anti Soviet tendencies of National Socialism 
were becoming more and more active A frantic attempt therefore 
was made by the Soviet govemmem to prove its good will to Berlin 
Within the shortest possible time a trial was staged in which besides 
the assasiin Yuda Mitonovich Stern a second defendant named 
Vasilyev faced the court It was obvious that Vasilyev was a pliable 
tool in the hands of the judge as well as of Krylenko the prosecutor 
At the latter s prompting he testified that he had persuaded Stern to 
execute the plot against the German Embassy in order to rum the 
relations between Germany and the Soviet Union Vasilyev said 
he had been requested to do so by the Polish Embassy 
“We never could find out anything about Vasilyev his life or the 
reasons that caused him to make his testimony But as far as Stern 
was concerned I had no doubts I attended the trial from beginning 
to end and received the very strong impression that the twenty-eight 
year-old student was a pathologically unbalanced person an utter 
failure in life who was forced by an irresistible compulsion to do 
something to catch the attention of the world Whether Vasilyev had 
been involved in the plot at all or to what extent he had partici 
pated in organizing it remained obscure or at least questionable* 
The court s mam purpose was to prove that Stern s plot was not 
the incidental deed of a single individual but the well considered 
act of a conspiratorial group whose wires were being pulled by the 
Polish Embassy In order to prove the great political importance 
* One authors claim chat Stem and Vasilyev committed the r deed at the behest 
o£ the GPU Itself appears extremely dubious The d«a Is in his story which are 
subject to verification show great inaccurac es and the entire book in wh ch it ap 
pears Karl I Albrecht s Her iwrratene So atomta (Berl n Le pr g Volksansgabe 
1943) pp 33&--541 is of very doulnfsit value as a source 



From Treaty of Berjm to Ri4e of National Socialism 249 

inherent in the assassin's intent, Krylenko tried with particular stub- 
bornness to extract the confession from Stern that he had noted 
down the numbers of several cars belonging to the German Embassy 
and that he had lam in wait for the cars systematically Krylenko 
finally got Stem to name two license numbers, which the court then 
identified as those o£ the cars used by von Dirksen and von Twar 
doivski Apparently, hoivever, that was not sufficient in the eyes of 
the Foreign Commissariat Immediately after Stern had named the 
two numbers, the Assistant Commissar for Foreign Affairs Nikolai 
Krestinsky, who had been sitting among the audience, came up to 
me and asked me the license number of my owm car Without think 
ing much about it, I willingly gave him the information Shortly 
aftenvard the trial was adjourned for a short time When it was re 
sumed, Krylenko once more began to insist that the accused Stern 
had not told the full truth, but had kept something concerning the 
license numbers from the court Thereupon Stem with halting voice 
produced the number of my car, and Krylenko moved another ad 
joumment so that an investigation could be made to discover whose 
number ii might be After a fifteen minute break, the session was 
re-opened with a statement by Krylenko Clear proof, he said, had 
finally been established that Stem had intended to ‘hit the very 
heart” of the German Embassy with his plot, for the three license 
numbers he had memoriied were those of the ambassador himself 
and his cwo most immediate collaborators 

Et en from my long observation of Soviet show trials 1 can hardly 
recall another example in which the collaboration between public 
prosecutor, court, and a governmental agency interested in the re 
suit of the trial was manifested in such blatant form as in this case 
of an assistant foreign commissar’s interference 



IX GERMANY AND 
RUSSIA 1933-1938 


J HITLERS ACCESSION TO POWER 

As ihe political crisis deepened in Germany the voices which warned 
against all dealings with Soviet Russia grew louder and stronger On 
the extreme right wing ol the political spectrum dreams of German 
expansion toward the East were revived Chapter XIV of Hitlers 
fletn Kampf openly proclaimed the fertile lands of Russia to be 
the destined Lebensraum for Gemianys expanding Nordic popula 
tion Hitler s propaganda made skillful use of the discontent aeated 
by the depression and unemployment and ihe fears aroused by the 
growing Communist vote Representatives of business pohtiaans 
and civil servants alarmed by Ae growing strength and virulence of 
the Communist International more and more regarded the Soviet 
government exclusively as the headquarters of world revolution 
With the awareness of the difficulties and hardships connected with 
the first Five Year Plan moreover the tendency grew in the Foreign 
Ministry to write Russia oS as a negligible factor in world politics 
and as a state whose friendship was more of a burden than an asset 
In 19S1 Dr Curtius resigned from the cabinet and Heinrich Bruning 
the Chancellor took over the Foreign Ministry Both he and his 
permanent undersecretary Bernhard von Bulosv were very skeptical 
about the usefulness of good relations with Soviet Russia While 
they were not ready to make any sudden turns away from Moscow 
they certainly sought to keep German Soviet dealings on a cool and 
noncommittal level Franz von Papen who became Chancellor in 
June 1932 embarked on a much more decided attempt at a rap- 
prochement with France evidence of this embellished by much ru 
mor created serious concern m Moscow 
250 



251 


Germany end Russia I9S3—I93S 

But even during the reign of the von Papen and Kutt von Schlei 
cher cabinets, German Sotiet relations on the surface remained as 
friendly as ever Shortly after von Papen tool, over the government, 
a large delegation of Soviet officers, led by Tukhachevsky, attended 
the Reichswehr summer maneuvers and were even received by von 
Hindenburg, in Moscow, meanwhile, von Dirksen and his staff 
strove to reassure the Kremlin that German policy toward Soviet Rus 
sia had not changed Underneath this facade of politeness, however, 
German policy was straining aw-ay from Rapallo Nothing illustrates 
this so well as the difficulties encountered in renewing the Treaty of 
Berlin The treaty would have expired on June 24, 1931, and several 
months before the date von Dirksen and Litvinov, discussing the mat 
ter, agreed that it should be renewed At once it became dear that 
Berlin wanted to avoid all discussions or questions about it in the 
Reichstag, where the “nauonal opposition” would certainly have 
seized the opportunity of making nasty attacks on the government's 
foreign policy In order to tread as cautiously as possible, the Foreign 
Ministry proposed to renew the treaty for an indefinite period but 
reserve the right to terminate it at any time on one year's notice 
Moscow, on the other hand, wanted to extend it for five years The 
protocol which v\as finally drafted provided that the treaty be re 
newed for an indefinite time, but one year’s notice of cancellation 
could be given any time after June 30, 1933 This protocol was signed 
just before the treaty expired, and still required ratification by the 
Reichstag In the last minute Bruning made an unsuccessful attempt 
to keep the nev/s of the renewal out of the press, lest French na 
cionahsc opinion be aroused Moreover, he was very reluctant to 
submit the protocol to the Reichstag A year after it had been signed, 
the protocol had not yet been ratified, and a quick succession of 
Reichstag dissolutions kept it from coming up for action It had to 
wait until early May, 1933, three months after Hitler came to 
pov\er, before a National Socialist Reichstag stamped its approval 
on It 

The fall of the Bruning cabinet in Febniary, 1932, caused the 
Soviet press to comment that German politics had taken a decided 
turn toward fascist dictatorship The Russians’ attitude toward this 
rise of fascism was quite ambivralent There vsere, first of all, expres 
sions of confidence that the reign of fascism would soon give way to 
the dictatorship of the proletariat Until Hitler's actual accession to 



252 The Incompatible Allies 

power Moscow could point out with satisfaction that the German 
Communist party was gaming strength in step with the National 
Socialists and every change of cabinet every tightening of the right 
wing dictatorship was hailed a$ a sure indication that the revolu 
tionary crisis was being accelerated One day after Hitler assumed 
the office of Reich Chancellor Izvestiya wrote tliat the moment ivas 
near where the struggle for power among the capitalist factions 
could turn into open class war and as late as March 1933 Radek 
assured the readers of the same paper that the National Socialists 
had won only an illusory -viclOTy On the basis of such considerations 
certain circles within the Soviet government actually gave silent 
welcome to Hitler s accession to power because they believed that 
he could not last very long and that his fall would speed the de 
vcloprnent of a proletarian revolution in Germany 
But side by side with confidence m the inevitable victory of the 
proletariat came creeping fears and premonitions Even while the 
depression and its political consequences were hailed as the harbin 
gers of proletarian revolution the very fact that the outside world 
was racked by crises at a time when the Soviet Union more than ever 
wished to be left alone to deal with its own problems was cause for 
worry Nor could Communist Moscow remain unconcerned about 
the growth of anti Communist sentiments in Germany even though 
It sought valiantly to see only the progress of revolutionary crisis 
None the less official Soviet Russia did not cease to express its firm 
willingness to maintain its good relations even with a Germany ruled 
by the Hitler party and its diplomats never tired of pointing out 
how well Moscow got along with Italy and Turkey even though 
the Communist parties there were completely outlawed The of 
ficial Soviet line on that subject was summed up when Litvinov 
said \\e don t care if you shoot your German Communists In 
any event Moscow did not know how to prevent Hitlers rise to 
power After all it could not recommend to the German Communist 
patty an alliance with the Social Democrats or other parties that 
might have saved the republic at a time when the Russian party was 
loudly condemning the right wing opposition 

■Wiat lamriDV and his government did very mudn care abifcn 
was the foreign policy of a possible Hitler regime In their conversa 
tions with us the Russians made it quite clear that they had read 
Mem Kampf either in the original or in a Russian translation Fif 



253 


Germany and Russia 1933-1938 

teen ^ears earlier, ideas similar to those of IJitler had inspired the 
Treaty of Brest LuovsV, and the thought that the spirit of Brest 
might supersede the spirit of Rapallo m German Soviet relations 
gave Soviet policy makers acute discomfort In order to forestall 
such a change of Germany policy, the Russians made every effort 
to show their own good will even before the National Socialists 
came to power A conversation I had with the manager of TASS, 
Ijoletsky, in July, 1932, was typical Doletsky voiced all the worries 
that were bothering Moscow, but in the same breath he expressed 
his conviction that healthy political «>mmon sense would win out 
m a National Socialist government, even the Nazis would be sensible 
and continue a policy tosvard Russia that, in his opinion, was con 
sonant with the Jong range interests of Germany Doletsky assured 
me m all confidence that the Soviet press had been instructed to 
avoid all appearances of interfering m Germany's political crisis 
and even to refrain from criticism of German policy All he feared 
was that the accession of Hitler might be followed by a rather dis 
turbmg period of transition before normal relations could again 
be achieved The general impression m the German Embassy was 
that the Soviet government would have liked to establish contact 
with the National Socialists for the purpose of prevenung such 
temporary difficulties 

Doletsky’s tempered optimism was shared by many Cennan diplo 
mats both in Berlin and in Moscow We too could not help being 
aware of the decidedly anti Soviet tendency of National Socialist 
statements for more than ten years Hitler's party had consistently 
cxiUcued Rapallo as a treacherous deal, and had castigated all those 
who believed in cultivating even the slightest diplomatic relations 
svith the Soviet state One of Hitler’s chief spokesmen in ideological 
matters. Alfred Rosenberg, was obviously motivated by a truly path 
ological hatred of everything Russian and all National Socialists 
consistently refused to regard the Soviet state and Soviet representa 
tives as anything but thinly veiled agents of a “Jewish Bolshevik” 
international Yet few of us were prepared to regard these never end 
ing outbursts as serious statements of future policy Shocked as most 
nf vs jiACe b}' ihs‘ nf the Jottd sscmibed 2 jsd his 

broiv n shirted militia who so utterly lacked all attributes of respecta 
bility, we were convinced that no responsible cabinet chief, once in 
office, could fail to consider the advantages of Germany’s continued 



254 The Incompatible Allies 

relations with Soviet Russia For the time being, Ambassador \on 
Dirksen bombarded the foreign minister with emphatic pleas that 
the old policy be continued, urging him to persuade Hitler to male 
statements that might reassure the Russians, and there are indica 
tions that the Foreign Ministry m Berlin supported von Dirksen m 
these pleas, pointing out that the murky international situation 
argued against any sudden adventures in foreign policy 

For many weeks in the spring of 1933 the actual policy of the Hitler 
regime toward the Soviet Union was vague, hesitating, and quite 
ambiguous Together with terrorist measures against the German 
Communist party and agents of the Communist International, a 
few similar steps were taken against Soviet citizens and Soviet m 
stallations Some of the incidents were acts of hooliganism organized 
encouraged, or tolerated by local storm troop leaders Brown shirts 
raided a Soviet clubhouse m Hamburg, looting and wrecking the 
place, Soviet citizens, particularly Jews, were molested, so that Soviet 
officials who had so willingly come to Germany m previous years 
now avoided being sent there In July three prominent political 
leaders, Krestinsky, Yenuktdze and Sums encountered great diffi 
culties when they tried to obtain hotel reservations for a vacation lO 
Germany In the German press Soviet leaders, particularly Litvinov, 
began to be exposed to unbridled ridicule and defamation 

Other measures hid a more official character Four weeks after 
the accession of Hitler the Berlin correspondent of /ruestiya, Mrs 
Lilly Keith was arrested on the grounds of anti German bias in her 
reports ^ Police raided the Soviet trade delegations in Hamhutg and 
Leipzig, the premises of the mixed oil him, Derop, were occupied, and 
Its German employees arrested as being Communists All activities of 
the trade delegations were seriously hampered ivhen attorneys, nota 
nes, and other agents of Jewuh faith employed by Soviet agenaes 
were no longer recognized by German tax and customs authorities, 
while non Jewish German attorneys refused to do further work for 
their Soviet clients, in view of the political risk involved in this 
activity 

Several times during the spring of 1933 Hitler made public declara 
tions in which he affirmed that German policy toward the Soviet 
Union remained unchanged In Nazi party circles, and in the party 

I Since Mrs Keith was a Cexman atizen this could not of course be cause tor 
any Soviet protest 



255 


Germany and J?uiiia 1933-1938 

press, such statements ssere rationalized by the argument that healthy 
political relations between Gcitnanyand the Soviet state had become 
possible only now after the complete elimination of the Communist 
moyement from German politics ’ The actual reason for Hitler’s 
attempt to soothe the Kremlin’s niind was that a clear Jme toward 
Soviet Russia had not yet been descloped In Germany’s Eastern 
policies, the initial sharp tension with Poland seemed much more 
acute Hence the ratification of the renewal of the Treaty of Berlin 
voted by the Reichstag in April was not very much more than a 
routine act which recognized that there were as yet no intenuons to 
make a sudden break with Moscow Foreign Minister von Neurath as- 
sured the Soviet representative in Berlin, khmchuk, that Hitler’s con 
slant anu Communist statements were not directed against tlic Soviet 
Union but only against the German Communist party On April 
28th the Soviet plenipotentiary was actually received by Goring and 
later by Hitler himself On this occasion, too, the Chancellor replied 
to Khmchuk s complaints and demands with reassurances that no 
changes svould occur in the good relations betsveen their two coun 
tries, which were bound K^ethcr by economic ties and by having 
common enemies 

Soviet faith in these pronouncements was shaky, as they were con- 
tradicted by the increasing terror directed not only against German 
Communism but also against Soviet installations After the Reich 
stag fire, the KPD was virtually liquidated, its members hounded, 
impnsoned, and killed This stunning blow to world Communism, 
svith its headquarters in Moscow, led to some soul searching analysis 
of the mistakes that had been made, and to the belated realization 
that National Socialism was Enemy No 1 of the German Communist 
movement The Moscow funeral services for Klara Zetkin, a veteran 
leader of the KPD, on June 22, 1933, were turned into a mass dem 
onstraiion against National Socialism and its leaders, now govern 
ing Germany, we assigned political significance to the rally because 
such important personalities as Stabn and Molotov participated in 
It And yet, during the first five or six months of Hitler’s rule ise 
noted marked efforts at restraint in the Soviet press ^Vhlle Hitler 
was rooung out the entire KPD apparatus which Moscow had spent 
so much care ancf money to buifif up, considerations of Soviet foreign 
policy retained paramount importance m the minds of Russia’s lead 

*Cf Volkuc?ter Bf<}bachteT,'Maj d. i9i3 



256 The Incompatible Alliet 

ers to such an extent that willingness to go on with Germany as 
before vas expressed again and again Such penons as Krestiiuliy, 
Litvinov, and ^^oIotQv wni out o£ their way to assure us that their 
government had no desire to reonent its foreign policy The chief 
of the German Division in the Foreign Commissariat, Stern, went 
so far as to tell us that the French had more than once asked Moscow 
to join the free world in its condemnation of the new government of 
Germany, and still the Soviet press had, in the mam, refrained from 
unfavorable comments Dirksen le!t confident that German Soviet 
xelaiions would be straightened out to mutual satisfaction In May 
he was in Berlin to talk to his chiefs and on his return he told us 
that the German government was going to ‘ stabilize its relations to 
Moscow, although on a low level " 

Instead, relations went from bad to worse, as Hitler showed not 
the slightest intentions to restrain his subordinates m their open 
hostility to the Soviet Union In 1933 a sharp famine broke out 
in Russia It was our impression then that the authorities deliberately 
refrained from aiding the stricken population, except those organ 
ized in collectne farms, m order to demonstrate to the recalcitrant 
peasant that death by starvation was the only alternative to collec 
tivization Among the areas affected were the German speaking re- 
gions on the Volga, and the propagancb null of Dr Goebbels eagerly 
seized upon their plight for its own purposes An ad hoc committee, 
'Brothers in Need, was formed, and much resented in Moscow 
But a very factual article by our expert agricultural attache, Otto 
Schiller, wau also received with great indignation Various other 
factors aggravated the tension In September six German employees 
of the Berlin trade delegation were arrested on the grounds of Com 
raunist activity German imports during the first half of 1933 
dropped to 56 per cent of the previous six months 

In the first half of May a group of high ranking German officers 
led by a General von Bockelberg came to Moscow for conferences 
with the Red Army general staff Their visit took place m the old 
spirit of complete harmony and good will At a dinner given by von 
Dirksen for tlie von Bockelberg group everyone, Germans and Rus 
sians, was m excellent spirits Every member of the Soviet War Coun 
cil was present, and Voroshilov loudly stressed his intention to main 
tain the ties between the two armies intact Von Bockelberg left 
with the good wishes of his Soviet friends but before he and his 



257 


Germany and Russia 1933-1938 

party had reached Berlin the Red Army suddenly demanded that 
the Reichst\ehr liquidate e\ery one of its enterprises m Russia 
Shortly afterv,ard the Russians brusquely declined to attend any 
further courses at the German War Academy 

Soviet officials later claimed they had received reliable information 
that the German Vice Chancellor von Papen had told the French 
ambassador m Berlin Andre Francis Poncet every detail of 
German Soviet mihcary co^3pe^atton Von Papen later vigorously 
denied it when confronted with the allegation by von Neurath and 
to the best of my knoiv ledge the report avas false But the readiness 
with ivhich It was believed in htoscow and the promptness with 
which the Rremlin took such decisive action are good indications of 
the very great strain under which the German Soviet friendship had 
come to labor Thus ended a significant chapter m German Sov let 
relations At once good will was replaced by chicanery Less than two 
months after General von BocfceJbcrgs visit a German Army de 
tachment that was to help liquidate some of the Reichswehr installa 
tions on Soviet soil met wuh difficulties m obtaining the necessary 
visas 

In June 1933 an international economic conference met in Lon 
don to discuss problems arising from the world depression One of 
the German delegates to the conference was Dr Alfred Hugenberg 
industnal tycoon movie magnate and king of a news empire As 
leader of the German National parlys right wing he had been an 
important instrument in Hitlers rise to power and in the first Na 
iional Socialist cabinet he occupied the dual post of minister of 
economics and agriculture At the conference he came forth with a 
memorandum in which Fastern Europe including the Ukraine was 
clearly marked as Germany s sphere o£ economic expansion The 
memorandum sounded like an open call to conquer and colonize 
Soviet territory it caused acute excitement bitterness and worry 
in Moscow sentiments which were hardly allayed when Hitler dis 
avowed his minister and took the welcome opportunity to drop him 
from his cabinet ® 

Toward the end of summer the trial of the alleged Reichstag in 

* Hugenberg had tried to persuade the Geiman delegation to bring his opin 
ion to the attent on of the conference He was soundlf rebuffed by the Gennao 
delegation whereupon he distnhuted cc^ies of his memorandum among the 
press reporters. The German govemiaent oideied his return to Germany 



258 The Incompatible Allies 

cendianes began before the German supreme court in Leipzig More 
clearly than any other event the course of the trial, particularly 
Goring s testimony, threw a significant light on the course ivhich the 
Nazis intended to follow toward the Soviet Union, and Moscow 
gradually reacted to the new political configuration One of the 
Kremlins acts was in retaliation against a specific matter of minor 
importance Pointing out that Soviet reporters and Soviet reporters 
alone, had been debarred from covering the tnal, Litvinov ansivered 
with a new weapon of his own invention he announced that Soviet 
Russia was severing its press relations with the German Reich This 
meant that the three German correspondents then in the Soviet 
Union were ordered out of the country on short notice Our protest 
against this act for the first time made clear to us m the Moscow 
Embassy to what extent Hitlers rise and his initial policies had 
antagonized public opinion m the West, for it turned out to be the 
first occasion on which the diplomatic corps of Moscow did not back 
up a German protest Later in the same year, when the United 
States government at last gave de jure recognition to the Soviet gov 
ernment we became more aware that the Western demoaacies and 
the Soviet state were gradually becoming allied on the basis of their 
common antagonism to Hitlers Germany 

Most readers will be familiar with the ideological refiections of 
this in Soviet politics of the middle and later 1930 s This was the era 
of the Popular Front, a strategy designed to combat the enemy on 
the extreme right by means of broad alliances with right wing Social 
ists and left of center liberab of every shade as long as they were 
prepared to fight against fascism, a policy which adopted liberal and 
patriotic slogans with the aim of making the antifascist crusade at 
tractive to as many as possible everywhere Diplomatically, this was 
the Litvinov era the years in which the Soviet Union occupied its 
seat in the League of Nauons From this world rostrum Litvinov 
proclaimed the principles of peace indivisible and collective security, 
agitating against both Hitler and those who sought to appease him 
One of the first pieces of evidence which made the German Em 
bassy aware of this swing was a new attitude official Moscow adopted 
toward the Versailles peace settlement A sharp antagonism toward 
Versailles had been an ideolc^cal cornerstone of Soviet foreign 
policy The Russians had always felt that the treaty was directed just 
as much against them as against Germany Hence they denounced 



259 


Germany and Russia 19}}-193S 

the entire Versailles 5)Stem. as irresponsible, harmful, and untenable 
imperialist policy ivhich was bound to lead to a second t\orId ivar. 
Official interpretation at tunes held bouigeois Germany to be a victim 
of imperialist vengeance Thus Bukharm wrote in March, 1927, that 
Germany’s struggle against France at the time of the Ruhr occupa 
tion had turned into a war of liberation, and Communist Russia, he 
added, supports sucli wars Apart from Bukharin’s scholastic dif- 
ferenuations between bourgeois and bourgeois imperiahst nations, 
the unequivocal stand the Kremlin took against Versailles was die 
tated by the desire to play o5 one part of the capitalist world against 
another, and ji seemed logical to seek alliances with the defeated, 
weakened, and resentful nations against the nilmg powers of the 
imperialist world As Lemn put it in December, 1920, the untenable 
provisions of Versailles were naturally pushing Germany into an 
alliance with Bolshevik Russia Not that the Germans were turning 
into Communists, for “the German bourgeois government madly 
hates the Bolsheviks, but the interests of its international position 
drive It toward peace with Soviet Russia against its own will This, 
comrades, is the second pillar of ourintemaiiona) and foreign policy 
To pro>e to those peoples, consaous of the bourgeois yoke, that 
there is no salvation for them outside the Soviet Republic Our pol 
ic> he summed up, ‘ is to gather around the Soviet Republic capital 
1 st countries that are being oppressed by imperialism ’ ♦ And so it 
came about that German anger and German self pity over the Ver 
sallies settlement had always found a very sympathetic echo in Mos 
cow The senselessness of the Polish Corridor, the untenable position 
of Danzig, the wanton injustice of the division of Upper Silesia, the 
distribution of Germany's oversea possessions as League of Nations 
Mandates, all these points were denounced by Soviet spokesmen with 
almost as much vehemence as by the average German 

Some months after Hitler's accession to power, this tune changed 
markedly Why should I toot into Hitlers hom?’ asked Radek 
tvhen I wanted to know what kept him so silent of late about the 
Corridor “AVhy should 1 make propaganda for the Germans after 
so many things have changed? ^VJiat had actually changed W'as that 
German resentment against Versailles for the first time seemed about 
to be turned into action by the National Socialist gosernment. And, 

♦From Lenins speech on concestions Dec; 21 1920 to ihe Cornmuaisi party 
faction at the Eighth Congress of Soviets SoeAinentys, XXVI 14-16 



260 The Incompatible Allies 

useful though that resentment had been to Soviet foreign policy 
Moscow now became apprehensive about the action that might be 
taken The prospect of a second world war for the redistribution of 
the -world in which a strengthened Germany might even defeat the 
Western democracies was by no means cherished Russia was in no 
way ready for another great conflict Even less agreeable was the 
specter of a German attempt to revise Versailles by peaceful means 
that IS at the expense of Soviet Russia and with the connivance of 
the Western powers A new Brest Litovsk was not the method by 
which Moscow had thought Germany would revise Versailles And 
even if the fear was without real foundation at that time the Soviet 
leaders were so suspicious of Hitlers motives and attached so much 
significance to incidental intelligence supporting their fears that 
they rather abruptly abandoned their stand against Versailles alto 
gether For a -while the new line was that a real revision and aboh 
tion of the entire Versailles system could be accomplished only by 
a proletarian revolution Later when the struggle against the fascist 
danger was uppermost in the Kremlin s minds the theme was 
dropped altogether 

Meanwhile both sides continued to go through the reflex motions 
of attempting to patch up the shredded fabric of German Soviet 
relations chough with increasing fatigue and pessimism The Rus 
sians trusted less and less to the honeyed words von Dirksen was still 
giving them though a number of prominent Soviet leaders conlin 
ued discussions with us m a moderately hopeful spirit Early in Aug 
ust von Dirksen was transferred to the post of ambassador in Tokyo 
He was realistic enough to end his last report from Moscow with 
the statement The Rapallo chapter is closed And yet he left for 
Berlin confident that a positive relationship between the two coun 
tries was still possible But the closer he came to the office of the 
Reich Chancellor the more he met with a firm determination not 
to renew good relations with Soviet Russia in any form At a 
cabinet meeting held on September 26 19SS the undersecretary m 
the Foreign Ministry von Bulow still stressed that Germany had 
nothing to gam from breaking with Russia and would only lose 
•decided econuriiic and mifitary advantages But Hitfer now plead 
ing the ideological incompatibility of the two regimes ivould only 
make token concessions it took much persuasion before he grudg 
ingly declared himself ready to retsiveXiestinsky who was scheduled 



261 


Germany end Russia }93d~293S 

to pass through Berlin en route from a vacation Krestinsky, how- 
ever, changed his route to asoid Berlin, perhaps because he thought 
that Hitler and he had nothing more to say to each other Ten days 
later Litvinov passed through the German capital on his way to 
W'ashington His visit with the foreign minister was spent in tveaiy 
arguments 

Von Dirksens successor as ambassador in ^^oscow was Rudolf 
Nadolny Bom m East Prussia in 1873, Nadolny ivas surprisingly un 
Prussian in his physical appearance His ancestors had come from 
Salzburg with the 20,000 odd Austrian Protestants whom Archbishop 
Count Firtnian had forced to leave the country m 1731 and 1732 
Most of these ‘Salzburg emigres’ had been taken m by the Prussian 
king, Frederick William I and settled in East Prussia Nadolny s 
father still used to ride a bicycle when he was already over ninety, 
from him, Nadolny seems to have inherited his extraordinary robust 
and rugged vitality At seventy the former ambassador looked about 
fifteen years younger 

The transfer to Moscow meant the fulfillment of a wish Nadolny 
had nursed for many years The special interest he had always shown 
for Russia and for German Soviet relations may have been aw akened 
around 1905, when he had worked as a young vice consul in St Peters 
burg In these early years he had acquired such a thorough knowl 
edge of the Russian language that, many years later, as ambassador 
m Moscow, he could employ it without effort m his meetings with 
members of the Soviet government The history of relations be 
tween Germans and Slavs had for a long time been his hobby In 
1928 he published a book directed against expansionist aspirations 
of both the Slavic and the Germanic worlds, in which he pleaded 
that the two peoples be encouraged to melt into a new unit between 
the Elbe and Vistula rivers * 

As a young man he had entered the consular service, which at 
that time had been separate from the diplomatic career J met him 
for the first Ume m 1921, when he occupied a leading position in the 
office of Reich President Ebert Sooa afterward he was appointed 
minister in Stockholm, and afterward, ambassador in Ankara In 
Ankara he established friendly personal relations with his Soviet 
colleague Sunts, who was sent to Berbn in October, 1934 

For reasons I cannot quite understand, Nadolny was not very well 

s German ijj^rung 0(J«r (Berlin Otto Siollberg Vejlag 1923) 



262 The Incompatible Allies 

liked in the Foreign Ministry Some said he %vas an intriguer others 
appeared not to take him very senously and behind his back called 
him the Podunk County Judge (Amlsrichler aus Pillkallen) They 
disliked him as being oveieaget and too bourgeois I was viarned 
against him but I had only good experiences nnth him as my superior 
as well as a human being Among other things I was told that 
Nadolny not only thought himseK to be an outstanding diplomat 
but also a firsKlass economic expert and that he would restrict my 
independence and svant to interlere with every detail of my job 
Nothing like that ever happened Nadolny turned out to be lea 
sonable and quite ready to take the counsel of others His hour 
geois traits came out very pleasantly among other things in a 
charming relationship with his simple and winning svife and his 
tivo daughters who n^ould have been the pride of any ambassador 

Nadolny came to hfoscoiv wnji the firm resolve to leave no stone 
unturned in order to create the necessary conditions for the raaintc* 
nance and further development of German Soviet relations what 
ever the conflicts between National Socialism and Bolshevism Into 
the task he threw all the vitality of his rugged personality particu 
larly since he was confident he would persuade Hitler that Germany 
could not afford to waste its good relations with the Soviet Union 
That a man with these opinions should have been chosen to suc- 
ceed von Dirksen may in part have been due to the malice of his supe- 
riors He has always wanted to go to Moscow well let him have 
his fun nowl they may well have said with secret glee 

The latest official policy staiement on which the foreign minister 
could base his instructions to the new ambassador written m Novem 
ber 1933 had to be taken from a speech Hitler delivered eight months 
before on March 23rd where he had said 

Vis k VIS the Soviet Union the Reich ^vernment is willing to cultivate 
friendly relations benefiting both partners The government of the Nat onal 
Revolution is able more than anyone else to conduct such a positive policy 
toward Soviet Russia The fight against Comraun sm in Germany is our 
internal affair in which we shall never tolerate interference from outside 
The international political relations widi other countries to whom impor 
tani common interests tie us are not affected by it 

Consequently Nadolny could be sent to Moscow with instructions 
that were still uell in the tradition of the 1920 s and were character 



263 


Germany and JJuiiia 1935—1938 
ized by an obvious desire to ovcrloot certain stubborn facts, thus 
the nesv ambassador s^'as enjoined to cultivate friendly relations be 
tsveen the Reichswehr and the Red Army five months after their 
relationship had collapsed completely! Germanys good relations 
mth Soviet Russia, the instructions maintained, must once again 
become a valuable asset of her foreign policy, and an efiort should 
be made to guide the Kremlin's political orientation into a corre 
spending direction, if an opportunity should arise On the basis 
of these considerations, the ambassador $ first task would be to create 
a better atmosphere by eliminating grievances and preventing fur 
ther disturbing incidents, without, however, using the slightest pres 
sure of any sort 

We know now that these instructions were in basic contradiction 
with the spirit which had already taken hold of Hitler s policy to- 
ward the Soviet Union But this spint was not so readily discernible 
at that time The relationship between the two countries was threat 
ened, but nothing definite had happened Hiller had not yet divulged 
his real intentions even to the Foreign Office apart from his well 
known political writings Hence the Wilhelmsirasse was able to 
continue in the old course and Undersecretary von Bulowr could 
assert his influence and hts spirit of independence 

Nadolny arrived in Afoscow itt the second half of November and 
immediately began vigorous diplomatic activity designed to sound 
out the Foreign Cornmissanat about Moscow s policy, her grievances 
against the Reich, and what might be done by the Germans to iin 
proie relations These efforts were from the very beginning doomed 
to failure They fell on fallow ground m Moscow, and did not have 
the support of Berlin 

The Russians had already made up their minds that the Nazi 
danger had to be stopped Over their common fear of Germany, 
France and the Soviet Union had been coming together ever since 
Hemot’s visit to Moscow in September, 1933 The reciprocal good 
i\ill that was being established betsveen the two countries gradu 
ally spread to other nations in the West Italy signed a treaty of 
friendship The Roosevelt government accorded its recognition 
Soviet Russia was invitecf to intemationaf conferences Ancf, fater, 
in September, 1934, the Soviet Union entered the League of Na 
tions The Litvinov era was beginning Quae fittingly, it was ushered 
m With an important speeds by the foreign commissar himself On 



264 The Incompatible Allies 

December 29, 1933, he spoke before the Central Executive Commit 
tee, and his wrath was directed primarily against Hitler’s foreign 
policy The era of bourgeois pacifism was over, he said, because of the 
saber rattling of Germany and Japan His government was not op- 
posed to revision of the peace treaties, after all, it had not even signed 
them But it was against unilateral revision, and against revision 
at the expense o£ smaUet states- tn the East Such "Aryau” }usuce 
could not be tolerated Despite all his concern, and his acceptance 
of iradnionally French notions of collective security, Litvinov still 
made clear that it was Hitler s foreign policy, not the nature of the 
Nazi regime, v^hich guided the actions of the Soviet government 
Alluding to the destruction of the German Communist party, he 
said 

tVe certainly have our own opinion about the German regime £Ve cer 
tamly are sytapathettc toward the suffenng of our German comrades but 
you can reproach us hfarxists least of all for peniutting our sympathies to 
rule our policy All the world knows (hat we can and do maintain good 
relations with capitalist govemmenu of any regime including Fascist We 
do not interfere in the internal affairs of Germany or of any other countries 
and our relations with her are determined not by her domestic but by ber 
foreign policy * 

This speech confronted the new German ambassador a few weeks 
after his arrival Nadolnys first reaction was one of surprise he 
had not expected the Russians to be so determined m their new 
course His second thought concerned his instructions Could he 
make Moscow change its attitude once more? 

The very first gambit with which Nadolny and the Soviet foreign 
commissar opened their game was typical of the futility of the ef 
fort Litvinov had proposed that the Cerman government guarantee 
It would never attack the Baltic States Nadolny pointed out that 
such a proposal was unacceptable because there had never been any 
intention on the pait of Germany to make such an attack Litvinov 
insisted, and Berlin naturally rejected the proposal 

The German ambassador now proposed to Litvinov that the two 
countries conclude a general treaty broadening the Treaty of Berlin, 
which might contain guarantee clauses such as the foreign commissar 
desired Litvinov assented, but asked tor concrete German proposals 
which he might examine in detail 

• Ljtvmof Vnr-jhnioia f oJjJiJia 5SSR, p 70 



265 


Germany and Russia 1933-1938 

In relaying the request to Berbn, Nadolny tried to explain to his 
foreign minister the reasons for the Soviet apprehensions ' The fear 
of a German Drang nach Osten,” he wote, "is a very real fear in Mos 
coss, and it has now become a nightmare *' He was convinced that 
the new line still had not been adopted by the Politburo, but i£ 
Litvinov’s known anti German resentment were given furtlier mate 
rial with which to impress his superiors his policy would surely win 

In searching for ways to convince Litvinov tliat Germany had no 
aggressive designs against Soviet Russia Nadolny did not hesitate to 
subject the ideas of Hitler and Rosenbeig to fundamental criticism 
In their printed utterances, he pointed out, both men demanded 
a poh<7 leading to the collapse of the Soviet regime, and Russia’s 
conflict with Japan was already being utilized toward that end 
Against this he argued that Germany had no interest m the collapse 
of the Soviet Union and no claims against her Furthermore Nadolny 
thought that any co-operation with Poland to satisfy German needs 
for expansion at the expense of Russia would be foolish, on the 
contrar), Poland should be kept in check, and should by all means 
be prevented from rapprochement with the Soviet Union Hence 
friendly relations with Moscow were imperative, and Germany, he 
argued, should avoid even the semblance of harboring aggressive 
plans. The ambassador urged that positive assurances to that effect 
be given to Soviet diplomats moreover he had the temerity of de- 
manding that the Reich government dissociate itself from the state 
ments made in Mein Kampf and from the activities of Alfred Rosen 
berg He further suggested that the anu Soviet press campaign be 
called off and that Litvinov be treated with great politeness at his 
next visit m Berlin All these thoughts and suggestions were con 
tamed in a long brief sent to the foreign minister in January, 1934 

Von Neurath's reply, probably written by von BUlow, put all the 
onus of maintaining relations on a friendly level upon the Soviet 
government The German cabinet be asserted had never changed 
Its policy since Hitlers speech of March 23, 193S, it was only the 
Russians, offended by the successes of National Socialism, who had 
broken aivay from Germany The foreign minister recommended 
SJi asjuuds d ‘rorO, jseJi assured reserve’ Inward the JKrejnlm Ger 
many, he thought, could afford to wait until Moscow made the first 
move, and would only lose face from the ambassador’s attempts to 
influence them Nadolny was ordered to take no initiative in talking 



266 The Incompatible Allies 

to leading Soviet personalities about German Russian relations This 
order clearly prevented him from carrying out the mission on ^\htch 
he had been sent Again and again he pleaded in vam that Litvinov s 
thesis about the German danger had not yet been accepted by the 
Politburo Stalm, Molotov and many others, he thought v.ere only 
too willing to continue doing busmen with National Socialist Ger 
many and were only waiting for tokens of good intentions In order 
to press his points, Nadoiny left Moscow on May 12, 1934, to discuss 
his views with the foreign minister personally In Berlin von Neu 
rath listened to his pleas and told him he was in full agreement with 
them But Hitler would doubtless make difficulties 'In that case 
you will have to help me, Nadoiny told him Some time later he 
was ordered to see Chancellor Hitler, who had learned about his stay 
in Berlin, probably from the war minister, von Blomberg whom 
Nadoiny had seen in matters pertaining to the Disarmament Con 
fercnce During his conference with Haler the ambassador again 
voiced his views Hitler listened to him quietly, admitted that they 
were sound but insisted that be wanted to have nothing to do with 
the Bolsheviks Nadoiny ui^ed hira to read his latest memoranda 
and left them with him About ten days later, he was again asked 
to see the Chancellor Let u$ hear, in Nadoiny s own words tran^ 
lated rather freely and taken from a recent letter of his, how the con 
ference went 

Hitler gave me the memoranda back and repeated what he had said be 

fore namely that he did not want to have anything to do iMtli these people 

Meanwhile the Foreign Minister came in He said he did not know the 
memoranda that he had nothing to oiler the Russians — in short he took 
Hitler s side completely and fully repudiated me 1 did not want to take 
that and kept on fighting until Hitler told me to hand in my proposals m 
writing within three days and through the Foreign Minister I went home 
put down my proposals and gave them to Bulow The latter added a 
memorandum made by the Foreign Office which svent even further than 
my proposals and gave both documents to Neurath But Neurath put the 
Foreign Office metaoiaRdum «i hw drawer saying that it cotuauied the 
same things as my proposals had someone write a negative report and 
with this went to the Chancellor Hitler gave his approval to the report 
and It was given to me together with the order to go back to Moscow 
Thereupon I refused to go back and demanded that the report be changed 
And what if the report is not changed? asked Neurath In that case 
1 said I should have to hand you my job which I am doing heresvith 



Germany and i2u«ifl 1933-1938 267 

The next day he told me the report Mould not be changed, that he had no 
othef post for me, and I vas therefore suspended 

Upon this, Nadolny left the foreign service altogether* 

Nadolny’s assertion that Litvinov’s policy of collective security 
against Germany had not yet been fully accepted in the Kremlin was 
quite realistic Of course, I have never had direct knowledge about 
the deliberations of the Politburo, but there were many indications 
that influential government and party officials had by no means de- 
cided to endorse the poliaes of the foreign commissar Or, rather, 
they endorsed them only with the greatest reluctance, and with con 
slant expressions of regret We found among many Soviet leaders a 
deep and lasting nostalgia for the old days of German-Soviet collabo- 
ration, and some of them were hank enough to voice this nostalgia 
before their German friends Radek, for instance, repeatedly em 
phasized m private conversations that nothing uouJd forever block 
Russia’s road tonard friendship »«h Germany But 5raJin, he con 
tinned, was tough and careful and suspicious, and he was uncertain 
about the attitude of Berlin How could he be expected to trust the 
author of Af cm kampf, which he had read in its Russian translation? 
In spite of Germany's aggressive designs. Radek insisted upon his 
friendly feelings toward the German people In August, 1934, he had 
a meeting tvith Professor Oberlinder and the German press attache 
Baum m his dacha near Moscow The initiative in arranging the con 
versation was probably Oberlander's, but Radek seems to have con 

1 In tirne Nadolny turned into an open mcmy ot ihe Nazi regime During the 
war lie latv esch other frequently and I still see him step into my oSce and hear 
him say Hilger (he Nazis are ruining Cermany those guys have to go and we 
count on your help in getting rid of them How he wanted to accomplish this 
atm he never revealed hoH<ter 

The end of the war found him in a small town near Berlin The Russians ar 
rested him at first but released him after three days and did not even touch his 
properii On Dec 30 1950 he wrote ine from his new residence a prctiy little 
town in the Rhine Valley According to that Idler he had had frequent discus 
sions with high Soviet administrators For a while these talks seemed to take a 
course quite to his satufaaion but wi Ihe end he became com in«d that he coiiTd 
not comply with what they requested of him and the relationship dissolved it 
self 

After moving to the Western zone Nadolny beolne one of the co founders 
of the highly controversial Society tor the Reunification ot Germany and for a 
while belonged to its directorate He resigned from this quite a while ago for 
reasons with which I am not familcar By die tiroc of his death in the spring of 
19 j 3 he had ceased to be the center of controversies 



268 The Incompatible Allies 

sented readily Oberl^nder was a young National Socialist professor 
at the University of konigsberg and a trusted friend of the East 
Prussian gauleiter Erich Koch During World ^Var II Koch turned 
out to be one of the most ruthless advocates of a policy o£ annexation 
and extermination in occupied Soviet territory But at the time of 
the Radek Oberlander meeting he was generally considered one of 
the few high ranking Nazi leaders who believed in furthering friendly 
German Soviet relations and Oberlander shared these ideas Wore 
over he did not abandon them to the extent his gauleiter friend latex 
did and during the Second World War he got into trouble because of 
his courageous critique of German occupation policies m the East 

Baum later told me about some of Radek s startling statements 
at the meeting In the presence of his friend Bukharin he allegedi) 
voiced great admiration for the organizing talent of the National 
Socialists the power of their movemerxt and the devoted enthusiasm 
of Its youth In the faces of broivn shined German students he 
exclaimed we see the same dedication and inspiration that once 
brightened the faces of Red Army officer candidates and the volun 
teers of ISIS * Baum further related that both Radek and Bukharin 
had expressed their deep confidence in the wonderful German 
people There are magnificent lads itv the SA and SS Radek said 
You 11 see the day will come when they 11 be throwing hand gre 
nades for us And at the same time both men expressed their firm 
conviction that the Nazi regime would collapse in economic and 
social crises 

This conversation was later used against Radek when he was tried 
for treason m January 1937 But if the Soviet government was 
thereby disavowing the sentiments he had voiced and castigating 
such ideas as treasonable many more leading personalities ivho 
voiced them even more openly should have been equally punished 
among them some of Stalins closest associates Larar Kaganovich 
for instance speaking at a regional party conference on January 17 
1934 publicly expressed his regret that Hitlers policies were com 
pelhng the Soviet government to discontinue its dealings with Ger 
many As late as January 2S 1935 Litvinov s immediate superior 
Molotov said m a speech before the Seventli Congress of Soviets 
that even the Nazi doctrine of a German master race constituted no 

® Radek was here refeir ng to che Prussian volunteers jn the war of liberal on 
aga nst Napoleon 



269 


Germany and Russia J9}3-I9}8 

obstacle to mutually fruitful Telations Quite obviously, the chair 
man of the Council of People's Commissars tsas still very reluctant 
to bum the bridges between his government and that in Berlin 
Similar sentiments were expressed in party circles below this high 
level and even among the rank and file of the Soviet population 1 
was given a significant demonstration of this attitude during a trip to 
the Ukraine I made in the late spring of 1935 While I was staging 
in Kiev, the German consul there gave a reception in my honor, and 
a number of high Soviet functionaries accepted the invitation 
Among them was Bredenko, a local liaison officer from the Foreign 
Commissariat, Vasilenko, the chairman of the Kiev Regional ^ 
ecutive Committee, Kattel, the Ukrainian people's commissar for 
foreign trade, Pevzner, the president of the Ukrainian state bank, 
Palladin, the secretary of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, and 
Grushevsky, the vice commissar of agriculture During a conversa 
tion I had with Vasilenko and Pevzner, both officials called the state 
of German Soviet relauons highly unnatural Did not Germany 
realize that Russia had no evil intentions against her? And, on the 
other hand, did not Germany enjoy the highest esieem among all 
sections of the Soviet population? Vasilenko told me that some v\ork 
ers had come to him not tong ago to tell him that they could not 
understand the current party line concerning Germany After all, 
Germany was only trying to liberate herself from the oppressive fet 
ters of Versailles But instead of aiding her to do so, the Soviet gov 
ernraent was making a pact with Germany s oppressors In short, 
said Vasilenko Litvinov s policy does not convince the masses, and 
history will soon pass over Litvinov How absurd of Soviet Russia 
to ally herself with a degenerate ’ state like France' Peace ivould be 
secure only through friendship with Germany \Vho cares about the 
racial concepts of National Socialism? (This remark was made even 
though Pevzner was a Jew himself) The two officials closed by mak 
ing disparaging remarks about Anthony £den, who had just been 
in Moscow, and compared him with Schacht, who knew how to do 
business ” In mentioning Schacht, Pevzner was referring to certain 
credit transactions that had recently been concluded successfully 
beCffeerr Chc cAve iWgvh.vai.*fOfrs 

for the German side, his Soviet partner had been the Iiead of the 
Soviet trade delegation in Berlin, Kandelaki 

There were slight indications that even Stalin himself still thought 



270 The Incompatible Allies 

about tbe possibility o! improving lelattons -with Haler Kandelabi 
was rumored to be one of the few persons who enjoyed Stalins con 
fldence For that reason the Foreign Ministry and the Moscow Em 
bassy attached great significance to the report that in one of his con 
lersattons with Schacht in July, 1955, Kandelalti suddenly stopped 
talking about credits and commodity exchange and, without fur 
ther ado, asked whether political relations between the two countries 
could not be improved Whereupon Schacht replied only that in 
tensive business relations between the tsvo economies would be the 
best possible beginning of a general improvement in their relations 
and that that was as far as his competence went If Kandelaki thought 
the subject should he pursued on a political plane, had not the Soviet 
Embassy better get in touch with the foreign rnmister? Naturally 
Schacht reported the conversation to von Neurath, and the latter 
took the matter up with Hitler The latter is said to have rejected 
the idea that an understanding with the Russians was possible at 
the time Talks about it would only be used by the Kremlin to press 
the French for a firmer military alliance and perhaps also to achieve 
a rapprochement with the British Nor would it help if the Soviet 
government disassociated itself from the Communist International 
by mere declarations The matter would be different however, if 
actual developments in Russia were to indicate a move away from 
International Communism and in the direction of an absolute des 
potism perhaps supported mainly by the military Should this occur, 
Hiller warned, Germany must not miss the proper opportuniiy for 
the re-cstabhshment of good relations with Moscow This was the 
first indication that Hitler was at last considering the possibility of 
renewed collaboration if he could feel convinced that ideological 
motives no longer guided Soviet foreign policy and that the ties 
between the Soviet state and the Comintern were actually being 
severed 

Nowhere, perhaps, was the nostalgia for the good old days of 
cordiality greater than among the officers of the two armies In Oc 
tober 1933, five months after the Red Army had abruptly called 
off all collaboration with the Germans Tukhachevsky m a long 
comersation with the then charge d affaires. Counselor von Twar 
dowski deplored the recent political developments and stressed that 
sympathy and good will toward the Reicliswehr had not diminished 
among his fellow officers and that the German Army s valuable aid 



271 


Germany and Russia J9SS-J93S 

in building up Russia’s forces would always be remembered “Don’t 
forget,” he said when he was about to leave, "it ts politics, your poll 
ties, which separates us, not our Red Army’s sympathetic attitude 
toward the Reichswehr” As late as October, 19S5, at a reception 
given by the German Embassy in honor of von Twardoisski, who 
was being transferred to Berlin, Tukhachesshy expressed his deep 
regrets over the break If Germany and Soviet Russia ivere to march 
together, he said, they could dictate peace to all the world, but if 
they were to clash, the Germans would find out that the Red Army 
had learned a tot in the meantime Similar statements were made by 
the Soviet Chief of Staff Yegorov and a number of other prominent 
Red Army commanders. Nor was this the dissident opinion of op 
positionists within the Red Army who later paid with their lives for 
such "treachery " Voroshilov himself more than once expressed the 
same sentiments Early in 1934. for instance, he urged Nadolny to 
influence his government to adopt a less anti-Soviet policy Just a 
feiv reassuring words from Hider, he said, would be enough, to show 
the Kremlin that Metn Kampf was no longer his basic policy state 
ment He too had nostalgic words for the former smooth collabora 
tion between the two armies It i$ therefore absurd to suggest that 
the great tvave of liquidations which removed virtually the entire 
high command of the Red Anny tn 1937 was belated punishment 
for undercover dealings with Nan Germany The generals’ feelers 
had the obvious approval of the highest chiefs of the Soviet state, 
moreoter, Tukhachevsky was one of the first to warn against the 
German danger and to endorw the Litvinov policy His Pravda 
article of March 31, 1935, in which he discussed German war plans, 
caused great indignation in Germany for its blunt analysis of Hitler’s 
aggressive designs And when the German ambassador protested 
against its pubheauon, Litvinov explained frankly that Tukhachev 
sky had intended to inform and warn the ^Vestern poivers 

2. THE LOWEST EBB OF 

GERMAN SOVIET RELATIONS 

THE MOSCOW ATMOSPHERE IN THE MID-iggOS 

This work would not be complete without a few words about my 
altitude toward the National Soaabst regime under which I con 



272 

The Incompatible Allies 

tinned to sene from 1933 to 1945 The reader shonld „ot erpect 

the cusmm m'th‘’°''’T '“•■'th hove becLe 

the custom m the postsvar «r.tings o£ former German statesmen 

diplomats, and officers I feel no need to defend my actions or oom 
past ille ' '"■photic avowals or denials of my 

I was neither an ardent follower of National Socialism nor an 
underground oppositionist I belonged neither to the party nor to 
any sort of resistance movement As a matter of fact, I hale never 

opiMrmnit° t"'' ‘'““'v ™“' "y hfe. I had no 

Xe m a?el <<‘>■"'*110 poliucs or even to 

which to t" hloscow a good vantage point from 

annfal Lr'' ' ■" Germany, and my 

impression oT h™”"'’” >» 8've me a thorough 

mv rcmin V »■"« I spent most of 

L f Mediterranean countries 

insuffiemilr.®’ S'P've "ere therefore based on quite 

fore 193S were quite mixed Eien be 

the s reel ‘‘'f ,1'®*'' hrown shirted hoodlums marching through 
Smf a. Ite 1. ^^’"'"7 The accession of their 

een mondf."^*f “"'“y The first eight 

ODoressinn ° ^ f ^ terrorism and political 

unions btganized violence against dissenters, trade 

leaders* the 7 ^7^’ "gsiust the highest storm troop 

which '“'''V'S I still remember the gloomy comments with 
"on of n ">■ * “■’'"“ed the bloody assassma 

Mv le ° h'l ™“ ®vhleicher, and others on June 30, 1934 
of diVn^r’' soy sight Schlesinger was one 

friends L Some of my Jewish 

to r ' m T hsvmg con, acts with Germans 

summer outward signs of tenor soon disappeared To the 

re«a„ceT *»" >h«-.L general ap 

pertly AddlT7 h oealncss. Older, and unprecedented pros 
■cy /could ^ ? “his were the great successes of Hitler s foreign pol 
which Gemmnv^Ld ‘uipressed by the new position of strength 
to power And e assumed among the nations since his accession 
of these darm ^ doubts about the final outcome 

seemed no rpao^ coups never ceased to disturb me deeply, there 
w y I should refuse to serve a government with 





(I le no Id PI 


olos Inc 

Berlin by von Ribbentrop on November 11 1910 
Mr Hilger « interpreting 



273 


GeTmany and Russia 1933-1938 
%vhich all the Western democraaes continued to maintain diplomatic 
relations There were no visible signs that any foreign government 
was willing to give support to forces of resistance within Germany 
On the contrary. Hitler as given such encouragement as the British 
German naval agreement of 1935 and the universal participation of 
all nations in the Olympic Games of 1936, not to speak of the 
Munich pact two years later 

^Vlthm the embassy the coming of the Third Reich had only 
very slight effects,. There were no changes in personnel whatever 
The only outward sign of the new era was the party membership 
buttons which could soon be seen on the lapels of everyone except 
myself and one or tv\o lower ranking subordinates One of our 
senior officials became the representative of the party within the 
embassy The first man to hold the post openly flaunted his National 
Socialist views He was highly unpopular with his colleagues and 
hated by the entire diplomatic corps of Moscow 2n his presence all 
conversation about political matters would stop Hu successor was a 
mild mannered man, very correct m his bearing, who inspired little 
fear, particularly since his own allegiance to National Socialist doc 
trines was o£ such recent vintage that he himself was somewhat 
vulnerable I, for one. could never understand why he, who had once 
been the Moscow correspondent for a German democratic newspaper, 
let the party use him as its agent in the embassy, on the other hand, 
he was generally praised for the loyalty with which he stood up for 
his Polish wife and her relatives 

Altogether, the embassy succeeded in keeping the party out of 
Its house as much as possible A local party cell {OrtsgTuppe) was 
never established, though the presence of a designated party in 
former was, of course, sufficient to make everyone careful in choosing 
partners for political conversations Fortunately, neither Nadolny 
nor his successor, Count Schulenburg, were died in the wool Na 
tional Socialists, hence they were far from demanding any particular 
signs of loyalty from their personnel Schulenburg did not even 
trouble to compose the speeches which he had to make on official 
occasions, like the Fuhrer’s birthday He would have the party rep 
resentative write a suitabfe text ancf then read it off in a bored mono 
tone But let us now resume the narrative of German Soviet rela 
uons 

^Vhen in May, 1934, Nadolny left Moscow to hand his lengthy 



274 The Incompatible Allies 

memorandum on German-Soviet relations to Chancellor Hitler, he 
breathed so much blithe confidence in the sure success of his mission 
that I could not help being affected by hiS optimism Once the prep- 
arations for his trip to Berlin %ere made, I saw no reason why I 
should not take my customary summer vacation and leave Moscow 
together with the ambassador and hrs family For that reason I was 
completely surprised by his sudden dismissal When I read the news 
in Swiss papers, I decided to cut my furlough short, for the change 
of ambassadors in Moscow, and even more the reasons behind it, 
filled me with considerable anxiety 1 considered Nadolny's dismissal 
as a further indication that Hitler was going to persist in his hostile at 
titude toward the Soviet Union Moreover, I very much regretted 
Nadolny’s departure from Moscow on purely personal grounds, 
for It had been a pleasure to work under him 

Soon afterward the news that Count Friedrich Werner von der 
Schulenburg had been appointed to the vacant post gave me a feeling 
of relief 1 knew Count Schulenburg from the years m which he had 
served as minister iti Persia, for on his trips between Teheran and 
Berlin he used to stop over m Moscow He had the reputation of 
having only friends and no enemies, and indeed. Schulenburg pos 
sessed quite extraordinary charm whidi netted him the affection of 
superiors and subordinates alike and enabled him to gam the trust 
and friendship of foreign diplomats and statesmen An experienced 
career diplomat, he had gathered vast knowledge with the aid of an 
amazing memory, and this too gave anyones dealings with him a 
particular charm of their own 

On the other hand, Schulenburg possessed none of die specific 
traits or abilities that had seemed to predestine each one of his three 
predecessors for the Moscow post, one way or another This caused 
one Swiss paper to write a somewhat paradoxical comment about his 
appointment The transfer of Schulenburg to Moscow, it said, in 
dicated a poliiical program precisely because he lacked any political 
program The implication was obvious Hitler, the paper thought, 
was purposely sending a man to Moscow who had no decided views 
concerning German Soviet lelauom and would therefore be a pliable 
messenger, but no more In the course of the following seven years 
which Sdiulenburg served m Moscow, it became apparent, however, 
that any other man could scarcely have represented Germany s m 
terests m the Soviet Union with so much skill and dignity in that 



275 


Germany and Russia 1933-1938 
difficult period as he Schulenburg quite consciously renounced all 
political initiati\e of his oivn and followed the adage that politics 
IS the art of making the best of what is possible, by his cautious course 
he rendered the German interests a service that must not be under 
estimated In view of the constant danger in which German Soviet 
relations were tenuously earned on in those years, another would 
ha\e given up in despair or reacted to the continual barrage of 
mutual recriminations in a manner which would have made it im- 
possible for him to stay in Moscow Schulenburg allowed nothing to 
deter him He treated even the most unpleasant matters with un 
shakable calmness and met even the NKVD agents who shadowed 
him with inimitable graciousness Thus he made the nasty realities 
of daily life in Moscow rebound from him without effect As a re 
suit, German Soviet relations weathered the crisis and could, in 
August, 1939, be put to use for the sake of an aim which Schulen 
burg believed isould serve not only the interests of Germany but 
also the cause of world peace 

For him as well as for myself it was a sore disappointment that 
detelopiaents later took a completely opposite course During the 
war between Germany and the Soviet Union, we both did our very 
best to oppose Hitlers cnrainal policies m the occupied terrttones 
of the East and the inhuman treatment of Soviet prisoners of war 
If our efforts were without success, the fault svas not ours And when 
the opposition group in Germany approached Schulenburg with the 
atm of nmning him for their purposes, he declared himself ready to 
take over the office of foreign minister in a new national govern 
ment should the revolt succeed After the abortive attempt to kill 
Hitler on July 20, 1944, his connections with the plotters were re 
veiled, he was arrested, and on November lOih executed by a firing 
squad All who knew him and appreciated his personal traits will 
forever treasure their memory of an upright and conscientious man 

The arrival of the new ambassador in Moscoiv almost coincided 
with the entry of the Soviet Union into the League of Nations Only 
two iveeks had passed since Russia had taken her seat in the Council 
of the Lea^e when on October 3, 1934- Coiinr vnn der Scbulejobiu^ 
handed his letter of accreditation to Mikhail Kahnin, chairman of 
the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Later, in the 
customary private audience with Kalinm, the usual phrases of good 
will were exchanged, similarly. Hitler felt the urge of exchanging 



276 


The Incompatible Allies 

rret"”rardor‘„r* 

stomonyalov «hom Sri, ^ ‘•oputies, Xrestinsk), and 

a>o.ded poldi’cal d,acuss.nralt^eX“‘‘ 

pot‘c;r.XL“’:„x'XXu I bz 

we had to do m those veL^.n Xll '•'= ta'ness 

andthe.„e.de„ts.~.rrXp:X^^^ 

n.aIrXX°LXt:afXd 

1330 s It led Moscow ^ “ t 

a painfully futde slmnetX^'^ ^ iaiague of Nauons and conduct 
Axis At L Xe Xf . '»»' 0 t.ve security against die 

strain every muscle to rendXh*^ Ifremlin bend every effort and 
cally. Ideologically andmiliV '“no™ 

sued which LXXd ™ *■ “S=““‘ ™ 

were seen everywhere around Vn'd"‘ uisency Enemies 

smationofKlrXonDecembfrl f9S4"h' ‘'v 

years of terror that was unorerit ^’^j prelude to several 
intensity The first r^ae-, ** cemented m m direction as well as its 
and xe/ophob.;;:S'2r^^^ -- 

of their way to avmH niade Soviet citizens go out 

ruthless m NKVD was 

contacts abroad or suspected of having 

Communist party w,a« t abroad For four years the 

Stalin eliminated evervonp ^ purges during which 

ship who might iniect P k™ Bolshevik leader 

or dissent at a time wh^n^” ^ shghtest note of hesitation, doubt, 
in a concerted effort tn so. uunce of force was to be marshaled 
tion and established ,n rjf '^’^"nan danger Born in revolu 

Soviet regime, try.ne desnX' i °f °n>rr social systems, die 

temal danger w"s becoX? “ *= face of ex 

and equality were now Ideas of rebellion 

nonsense, while authoritX'’’ >>rmded as sentimental 
were resurrected aX fradtuonal features previously 
od tureaucratic state Abroad '’Si » newly strati 
» oviet Russia stood for the defense 



277 


Germany and Russta 1933-1938 
oE the status quo, and that meant not only the maintenance of the 
boundaries established at VersaiDes the Kremlin also turned away 
from proletarian revolution for the time being Under the slogan 
of the Popular Front, Communist parties everywhere enjoined their 
folloivers to ally themselves with all forces to the left of fascism, in 
defense of democracy and national independence 

Underneath this, houever, there remained a deep seated distrust 
against the middle-of the road parties, a distrust which grew as the 
record of appeasement piled up Jn retrospect one may assume that 
Litvinov’s insistence on measures of collective security was at least 
m part motivated by Moscow's silent conviction that the Western 
democraaes would continue to appease Hitler, for that reason Soviet 
proposals to stop German aggression were at least in part propaganda 
designed to show the extent to which the Ifest was in tvilhng or 
unwilling collusion with Nazi Germany Though Litvinov himself 
may hate been desperately serious in his battle for sanctions and 
other measures to stop the Axis, every failure of his policy raised 
voices in Moscow that pointed out the unrehabihiy of England, 
France, and other “bourgeois democracies “ On the other hand, the 
Kremlin luelf did not hesitate to violate its own demands for action 
against the aggressors During hfussohni's Ethiopian venture, for 
instance. Moscow continued to ship vital strategic materials to Italy 
even while its represeniatixes in the League were clamoring for 
rigid sanctions At least two reasons were behind this double play 
In the first place it would have been hard for Moscow to pass up an 
opportunity of doing profitable export business, but in addition we 
in the embassy felt that the Kremlin anticipated serious soaal dis 
turbances in Italy if Mussolini should lose his war But revolution 
ary outbreaks were something Moscow did not in the least desire at 
that time Preoccupied as the Russians were with their ovm security 
problems, they would have been extremely loath to divert their forces 
in support of an Italian proletarian revolution 

In view of such conflicting motives and policies underneath the 
seemingly unambiguous front of Litvinov's foreign policy, it is only 
natural that constant and never ceasing eHorts were made by Soviet 
representatives to improve their country's relations with the Third 
Reich Usually this amounted to nothing more than verbal prodding, 
feeble attempts to sound the Gomans out and to manifest the Soviet 
desire to re-establish a tenable relationship In early 1935, while the 



278 The Incompatible Allies 

Soviet press and Soviet dignitaries -were baiting the Hitler regime in 
speech and in print, linking it to every failure and to every opposi 
tional force in Russia, olBaals of tlie Foreign Commissariat itself 
pressed Berlin to join a mutual assistance pact of all Eastern Eu 
ropean states Only such a pact, they pleaded, would bring greater 
stability to the countries concerned As Krestinsty said in all frank 
ness to the German ambassador. Hitler's words and actions so far 
had created such deep distrust that words alone could not re-establish 
confidence Nor could any bilateral treaty between Germany and the 
Soviet Union suffice to give Russia the security she needed, hence 
the Kremlins pressure for a multilateral pact providing for mutual 
assistance Such a pact would offer Germany all the security she 
wanted and uould thus relieve the pressing need for rearmament 
The reply we tvere instructed to give to such overtures was that Ger 
many preferred to take care of her own protection The mutual as 
sistance pact was rejected as a measure from which only the Soviet 
Union and France could benefit Hiller had no fears for Germany's 
security on the contrary, he felt strong and confident and had not 
the slightest intention of reducing his armament program None 
the less, the Russians continued to suggest the pact through the early 
months of 1935 Late in March, at the height of an extremely violent 
anti German campaign uhich made even the NKII? officials avoid 
political conversations with us, Karl Radek publicly advocated a 
pact in a gesture of conaliation 

The proposed Ostpakt, as the embassy called it, was only the most 
ambitious Soviet attempt to establish a modus vivetidt with National 
Socialist Germany Less systematic feelers were made constantly, not 
only m confidential conversation but also in occasional public ut 
terances But every act of Hitler's foreign policy sharpened the po- 
litical tension between the two countries His Reichstag speeches of 
March 8, 1936, and January $0 1937, were virtual declarations of 
cold war against Bolshevism, and in liis speech of September 12, 
1936, at the Nuremberg Party Congress, he went so far as to say how 
wonderful it would be if Germany had the nches of the Urals, Si 
faena, and the Ukraine at her disposal Tour days later Voroshilov 
answered by declaring that bis country was ready for war 

The year 1936 saw the beginning of the Spanish civil ivar, the 
European prelude to the general armed conflict It was also the year 
in which Germany and Japan sealed their partnership in a formal 



279 


Germany and Russia 1933-1938 
treaty implicitly directed against the Soviet Union, the so-called Anti 
Comintern pact Yet e\en alter 1936 feelers for a rapprochement 
were continually being extended by the Russians both in Berlin and 
in Moscow 

Strangely enough, the diplomatic airps in Moscow seemed to have 
a feeling that a German Soviet rapprochement Was in the air We 
were repeatedly asked to confirm or deny current rumors to that 
effect Similar itimon cropped up even in the British press, and 
some time in the spring of 1937 a question was asked in Parliament 
in connection with these rumors Some of my friends, I believe, had 
the distinct impression that the Soviet press had toned down its 
anti German tirades at that time, though 1 do not recall sharing 
their opinion But even if a careful ‘ content analysis” of Pravda and 
other papers should reveal a decrease in the intensity of bitterness. 
It may have been the expression of an even greater cooling off Such 
a deaease may have indicated that the Soviet Union had ftnally over 
come the shock of its alienation from Germany and was ready to 
adopt the part oE an implacable adversary 

These conditions were sharply reflected in the change which the 
official duties and personal life of the embassy personnel in Moscow 
gradually underwent ^Ve had to give up all social contacts with 
Soviet atizens if we did not want to endanger their lives The en 
tire diplomauc corps isolated itself in this fashion because the NKVD 
did not differentiate greatly between the representatives of different 
bourgeois nations As a consequence, the Moscow diplomatic corps, 
which at that time was not yet familiar with the phenomenon of 
“satellite” diplomats, came to fonn one great family, whose members 
led a very active social life among themselves and engaged in in 
tensive exchange of opinions On this basis relationships and friend 
ships were formed which rested on such strong personal sympathy 
and so much mutual trust that they lasted even beyond the war and 
Its aftermath 

In official business the center of gravity in the embassy had until 
then been its political and economic affairs ^Vnh the low ebb m 
German-Soviet relations, the bulk ot our activities was concentrated 
in the consular department,* which had to care for German nationals 

•Another reason that this department had more to do than ever was that the 
entire net of German consulate* m the USSR was dissolved in 1937 after months 
of bitter negoUations The Soviet Umon m turn closed us consulates m Germany 



280 


The Incompatible Alhes 
who had fallen into the clutches of the NK Vn r>r . i 
office or who had to be freed f 

w.v"a orGerm?“ “"'r' cdtzem'who w“ 

Sov“t l?:r “'■y "-ly permttted to leave ffie 

e.^ Office L'del'?“ ^ - " =■> - ■l.e For 

formation about tb '“■>>a>sy for more and more m 

man experta bad “ „t3T‘ T” 

large number of r^armf. k service and there was always a 
embassy for advice and s^LnoT'*' ''ho came to the 

a marled lull now set In all these activities 

German busiLre„’l'"„hoij; ^^7 

of my time for the Cove. ^ ^ previous years given most 

chases on L/ger ‘btecrinTT'"'"' " P“' 

in Germany father^ih^n P^c'crred to negotiate the deals 

most of the German s *? fmcow The Soviet government sent 

.0 OernZy bZuse Sr ! r““ "> 

job opportunities niament program offered them new 

ion forming Moreover tL^^" “ monopoly on opin 

doingawavwith iin<»rys.xi nient program had succeeded in 

lively negligible purch hecome a rela 

gam by manifestly ,, ^he individual citiren could only 

German lechniciaifs whTZ”"'' '™“““ '“ ?“'■>>'« h'any 
gusted and disillusioned “'cnmvhile relumed to Germany dis 
paign wiih .He propaganda cam 

that they had toZabil,iai'’T“”‘.®““'' *™ undoubtedly felt 

Siam In short .. Z ^ ''"“S *0 Rus 

inactivity and the onlv ot growing isolation and relative 

was the possibility of devoT”*^^^ ^ personally derived from it 
hterature and to the ? i "*“* classics of world 

•ha. I had had no time to dZn rptS'nTX'”’'™’ 



Germany and Russia 1933-1938 281 

The NKVD s activities concerning the German Embassy were 
intensified, particularly during the great purge trials In 1937 an 
especially blatant attempt was made to gam access to our most secret 
political files But the key which ivas used in the effort to open one 
o£ the safes broke off and remained stuck in the keyhole There could 
be no doubt that at least one of the embassy’s night watchmen ivas 
a traitor who was in the services oi the NKVD or who had been 
coerced by them The Foreign Ministry sent a ranking member of 
Its personnel office to Moscow for a strict mvesugation, but with all 
his soul searching interrogations he did not find the culprit As a 
result, no less than eight employees of the embassies were dismissed 
as suspect, either because they i*ere Soviet citizens or because they 
had Russian wives As a further precauuonary measure the embassy 
constructed a vault for its records which was henceforth guarded 
day and night by a reliable official 

Four years later the secret ivas cleared up when, shortly after the 
beginning of the war, I had an opportunity to talk to a former NKVD 
official, Zhigunov, who had fallen into German hands He bad been 
recommended to me by the military as politically interesting, ' since 
he had worked m Moscow for the NKVD agency m charge of ob 
serving the foreign diplomatic missions Indeed, my conversation 
with him turned out to be quite rexeahng, as Zhigunov, who did 
not know that I was a former member of the embassy, and who had 
never seen me before, was well informed about the break into the 
German Embassy in 1937 I learned from him that one embassy em 
ployee had several times earlier handed over to the NK.VD documents 
from our secret safe, the police had then photographed them and re 
turned them the same night so that they would be back in the safe 
before the next morning Only the last attempt had failed Zhigunov s 
story clearly showed that the embassy employee ivho had been their 
accomplice had been among those who were fired in 1937 

Zhigunov himself had been in charge of watching the Hungarian 
Mission m Moscow Indeed, he showed himself surprisingly well 
informed about the political reports of the Hungarian minister, 
which was due to the fact that the minister usually threw the drafts 
of his reports in the wastepaper basket, from whence they were 
promptly delivered to the NKVD because the charwoman of the 
Hungarian Mission was in their services Zhigunov gave me an ex- 



^ The Incompatible Allies 

cellent characttmauon of .he Huoganan m.nis.er, when. I had 

Ae .me™ 1 T T"' P'cAre of 

the internal conditions of the mission 

I readily believed his ataiemcnt that the .merest of Ae NKVD and 

hassv concentrated mainly on the German Em 

mked h “ h T When I 

smd n n »'>»“' Counselor of Embassy Hilger, he 

of the NKVn ■ ^ ft’Ser to be Ae most dangerous antagonist 

Insist 20 »” 

becMse h ^ Ais man Hilger 

iher an h r “ 

dinlnmat aboul the isolation and supervision of the 

a Csrak7.rb'’; ■" *n -so- ■> — M >>' 

even annr b'’?'''' ‘1!“" "" s“l>jccted to limitations whiA 
to suffCT.rih]. *' ft friendly states have 

war m im, ' ’r*'"' “P »'Pn"'"e <>' "■= 

h dom m Vd “?>' "joy'd dte right .0 move w,A complete 

thm?mo d,l f" ‘‘'“"O" ““'d undemke 

auAotities m H oy *0’'"' Un'd" And in 1937 the Soviet 

by car IfterTv^ T ' "“■’‘-d to return to Moscow 

Sito b n toT ■" "d France I had made a similar 

Germanv^ Born bx years earlier after buying my first car in 

Ae abominable somewhat grueling experiences because of 
rop^aZrand r n 'o'ds, Ae snspicons of the 

trip I had to dr ' I, obtaining gasoline On the second 
iZ I had been Im ""y gear because the only 

for which mv eio^ht * [° P^fchase was high octane aviation gasoline 
r wnich my eight cylinder Horch was hardly built 

' P””" “■ ""S'- wa. piob 

and that he could not ‘ else in the diplomatic corps 

because I wanted to show ,h ^ dangerous I then talked about Krestinsky 
Union about many people ideas had arisen in the Soviet 

hw own trial that he had worl^^ »heia Krestmsky The Utter had testified at 
?higunov that he had never *n,^r !t German spy for ten years and I told 
faithful servant of the Soviet ahvays been a 

say with conviction Of courf, v indulgently and 

gunov a man of above avera« *Py Thus even Zhi 

“ •bou, Sngs a,"fcuTi£ N?™“Vb“a"L^^ 



Germany and Russia J933-1938 


283 


GERMAN SOVIET TRADE UNDER HITLER 

All this ivhile Soviet German trade relations continued without 
serious interruptions and^ in some respects, with unprecedented 
smoothness German agrarian interests that in the days of the Weimar 
Republic had been able to restrict German imports from Russia 
were now given far less opportunity to influence purchasing policies 
Paradoxically, too, the political enmity of the two countries was so 
much taken for granted that trade relations were now remoted from 
the realm of controversy and could be discussed with an amount of 
detachment that made for far greater efficiency In some respects 
the two economies had become more complementary than ever be 
fore Hitler's tour year plans of rearmament created acute shortages 
oC certain food staples and raw materials which Russia had to oSer, 
particularly Umber, oil, feed grams, od cake, and manganese ore 
Finally, the chronic shortage of hard currency made it essential to 
obtain Soviet gold In short. Germany was quite dependent on Rus 
Sian business 

After the tight money shortage of the depression. Hitler's eco- 
nomic policies gradually created inflationary trends which facili 
tated the conclusion of credit agreemenu, but even before these 
trends became apparent oedti negotiauons were resumed At the 
time Hitler came to power, Soviet Russia $ debts to German credi 
tors had grown to the substanual sura of 1 2 billion reichsmarks, of 
which more than 700 million were due during 1933 Shortly before 
Hitler's accession refinancing negotiations had been initiated which 
the Nari government did not break off In March, 1933, a refinancing 
credit of HO million reichsmarks was granted against collateral put 
up by the Russians, m this manner the Soviet government obtained 
Its first important finanaal credit from the National Soaahsts Such 
money credits became almost a routine in the following years, and 
the amounts showed a tendency to increase An agreement signed 
on April 9, 1935, granted Moscow a five year financial credit of 200 
million, on which the Soviet trade representauve could draw any 
time until June 30, 1937 By theendof 1935, Dr Schacht told Kande 
laki that Berlin was ready to giant a ten year financial credit of 500 
million reichsmarks to be used for Soviet purchases in Germany A 



284 


The Incompatible Alliti 

number of conditions attached to the offer were accepted by the 
Russians, and in December, 1935, Kandelaki handed the minister 
of the economy an impressive list of commodities desired by his 
government Among the items in the list were warships, and par 
ticularly submarines In addition, the Russians requested the closest 
scientific and economic exchange with I G Farben and Zeiss 
Schacht’s offer led to some sharp discussions in Berlin Repre- 
sentatives both of the Finance and of the Foreign ministries warned 
that Germany would lose money on such long lerm credits More 
over, Germany would once again be setting a dangerous precedent 
by such an agreement, and since other countries would be able to 
offer better terms, a competition for the Russian business would 
ensue m which Moscow could not lose Since these views were ex 
pressed after Schacht had virtually closed the deal, they placed him 
in a somewhat embarrassing situation Without knowing it, how 
ever, Molotov saved him In a public speech before the Central 
Executive Committee, on January 18. I9S6, he alluded to the offer 
and thus commuted an indiscretion, alloiving Schacht to break 
off further discussions with Kandelaki by saying that Molotov had 
apparently taken the matter in his own hands 
By this time the German government had introduced rigid valuta 
control legislation which severely resincied the disposition which 
foreign creditors could make of their money holdings in Germany 
To circumvent them, short term clearing treaties were devised to 
regulate the exchange of commodities and payments between Ger 
many and Soviet Russia The first agreement of this sort was signed 
on April 29, 1936, and in Decembw of that year it was extended 
until December 31, 1937 On the German side nothing stood m the 
way of another renewal But the last months of 1937 went by with 
out the Soviet government designating a negotiator empowered to 
sign the agreement Consequently, our trade relations came to a 
general halt in the first months of 1938, and business resumed only 
after March 1st, when the treaty of December 24, 1936, was re 
newed until the end of 1938 The further renewal through 1939, 
which was signed on December 19 1938, was almost a routine matter 
But the German and Soviet presses played it up, and it created quite 
a stir in the West because it had generally been taken for granted 
that the two countries had separated so far as to preclude agreements 
of any sort 



Germany and Russia 1933~I938 285 

Unkno^vn to the outside world, there rvere, moreover, other indi 
cations that both sides wished to end the state of tension between 
them As early as March, 1938, when the clearing agreement for 
1938 had been signed, there bad been discussions of a new com 
modity credit Nine months later, on December 22nd, Dr Karl 
Schnurre, the German negouator, approached Skosyrev, the Soviet 
trade representative, with the offer to resume the talks The Reich, he 
said, was ready to grant a six year credit of 200 million reichsmarks on 
the condition that three tjuariers of the amount tvould be repaid in 
the form of strategic raw materials Three weeks later, on January 1 1, 
1939, Sot let Ambassador Merekalov himself accompanied Skosyrev to 
the Foreign Ministry to dedare that his government was ready to dis 
cuss credit terms on those conditions But he asked that the negotia 
tions be held m Moscow, and the Reich s interest in Soviet raw mate- 
nals was so great that Wiehl the chief of the economic division of the 
Foreign Ministry, gave strong support to Meiekalovs wish It was 
decided that the dispatch of a large delegation to Moscow was not 
warranted, but that Dr Schnurre, of the Eastern European desk in 
the Economic Department of the Foreign Ministry, should go alone 
to negotiate the credit Earlier, Schnurre had distinguished himself 
as a young secretary of legation m Budapest during economic negotia 
tions with the Hungarian governments, and he had since advanced 
rapidly He was extremely capable and efficient, and very ambitious 
Moreover, he had great zeal, perseverance and a real understanding 
for economic problems and the whole complex economic system 
Thus the Russians would face an intelligent and purposeful negotia 
tor who combined strong personal ambitions with great expertness 

The Moscow talks were to start on January 31, 1939 Schnurre had 
gone to Warsaw earlier that month to participate in negotiations 
with the Polish government about German Polish trade Afterward 
he was to continue his trip to Moscow to arrange for the new credit 
with Commissar for Foreign Trade Mikoyan” I went to meet 

11 Bom in 1893 Mikoyan was Ihitty-one jean old when he was appointed 
peoples commissar for trade of the USSR. One >ear later he told me very proudly 
that he was the youngest cabinet minister in the whole world Ever since No 
vember 1926 he had been a candidate member of the Politburo and in 1939 
he became a regular member of that highest decision making body in the Soviet 
Union Being a man of exceptional intelligence who had profited greatly from 
his long experience Mikoyan was one of the most agreeable partners in negotia 
tions 1 met in these years Of conise, the nature of the regime under which he 



The Incompatible Allies 
Schnurre ,n the Polish capital to mform him about my prepaiatoiy 
talks with *e commissar and to describe to him the general mood m 
oscow ogether, in Warsaw, we mapped out our plans for the 
impending negotiations 

In the meantime the Daily Mail and some Trench and Polish 
papers published news, m rather sensational form, about a large 
German trade delegation allegedly on its way to Moscow for eco- 
mic ta s on a grand scale Von Ribbentrop interpreted the re- 
port as a de iberate attempt to wreck h« attempts for an understand 
mg with Poland through whtch he st.ll sought to solve the problems 
of Damng and the Corridor by means short of t«r Hts immediate 
to Eerhn"** '"P Moscms' and order him back 

fai^^*^^^ ^ abrupt recall was taken by the Russians as a slap in the 
nirvm^at “ ?”®i Gennans wem 

ehewhM * '*’^1 expense in order to gain advantages 

misleadin^T T'"* L" ■'"""'>• None the less, i. would be 
severed }i5 ti,'* ^ economic relations were abruptly 

interested’^ ’'h '''' both sides were still vitally 

M 'bo-gh some points still had to be clar. 

svateme i='*id>aiks' worth of 

machmerv “atertals, while the Russians were asking for tool 
sides wem'eav'^''”"* equipment, and similar capital goods Both 
both were much, and part with as little, as possible, 

^harrb' V “TV"’ “ *'=)' prepared to drive 

Lriaft ofr ' ' '!>“. M'koyan handed me 

government '"‘‘‘"■'"E *0 conditions under which his 

nals. aXo': hen T 

the foreign trail ^ June I remained in constant touch with 

trade commissar The aanal negotiations were conduemd 

operated severely rcstrirte-H ►, « _> 

shoulder responsibility i oftrn ^“^********7 his initiative and his readiness lo 
vrithout consultine the Pni..K he could not make real decuions 

never received me alone Th ® also tjpical that he 

seated m the survivors wa, « n 193(3-1938 had 

^red to deal with a forei™^ L” ®'™"5 that not even a Politburo member 

ners became really effectiyfftni ’’"”' ''*^***“ Consequently his pleasant man 

interesting and witty conveKaL‘" ’‘«h him He knew how to make 

he .eemed , Ll , " 8re.i v.nei, „I lobject. even thoogb 

• «i uniy m ins own work 



287 


Germany and Russia 1933—1938 

in Berlin. ivhiJe my talks with Mikoyan had the purpose of remov 
ing the difTiculues that had arisen in Berlin and of working out com 
promise solutions This explains why the final treaty was signed in 
Berlin, and not m Moscow 

The signature took place on August 19, 1939 According to the 
agreement, the USSR purchased machinery and equipment north 
200 million reichsmarks and promised to sell the Reich 180 milhon 
reichsmarks’ -worth of goods Repayment was due after seven years, 
and the interest rate of 5 per cent was almost as reasonable as Miko- 
yan had initially demanded 

Begun as one in a long senes of economic agreements faetiveen Nan 
Germany and Soviet Russia which were concluded in spite of the 
prevailing political enmity between the tivo regimes the treaty of 
August 19, 1939, would perhaps not have been signed if a political 
rapprochement had not paralleled it The Schnutre incident of 
January, 1939, had convinced the Russians that economic relations 
could not be separated coo rigidly from political relations In the 
spring the talks in Berlin had begun to drag and on May 20th 
Molotov could say chat they had virtually faded out Eager as the 
Kremlm was to come to terms on trade deals with Germany, the Rus 
sians had come to the conclusion that a resumption of economic 
negotiations would be agreeable only if a pohiical basis of some sort 
could be aeaied for them 



X NAZI-SOVIET 
COLLABORATION 


1 THE HITLER STALIN TREATIES 

The political rapprochement beK\een the two countries was the 
result of a curious give and take in whidi it is very difficult to assess 
the importance of the diplomats contribution at any given time 
Nor could one determine the precise moment at which either of the 
dictators made up his mind to work for a full understanding Both 
in Berlin and in Moscow the idea appears to have ripened gradually 
as evidence of the other partners readiness to talk business accumu 
lated Both governments had enormous doubts suspicions and ideo 
logical scruples to overcome but once the many counterarguments 
had been disposed of both went ahead with surprising enthusiasm 
and a certain feeling of release hence a protracted period during 
which both felt out the terrain with great caution and restraint was 
followed by a very brief span of time during which events followed 
each other with dramatic speed 

The first weak signs that the tension was easing could be noticed 
in the summer of 1958 At that time the atmosphere created by the 
mutual recriminations had become intolerable and both sides ex 
pressed the desire for a let up The German Embassy was the first 
to suggest that measures should be taken as a token of mutual good 
will to end the mud slinging aimed at the two heads of state The 
idea was Schulenburgs but he discussed it with the first counselor 
of the embassy and myself before taking it up with Litvinov The 
suggestion fell on ferule soil rt was discussed in various meeiings 
both in Moscow and in Berlin and an agreement was finally reached 
A further step in the same direction was taken in October 1938 
when Litvinov and Schulenburg came to an oral understanding that 
288 



Nazi Soviet Collaboration 


289 


the press and radio of both states should henceforth restrain them- 
selves and cease attacking the other country The consequences of 
the agreement v.ere the first visible indication tliat a change m the 
relations between the Soviet Union and Germany was m the ofSng 
Stalin's willingness to enter into agreements of this sort was pn 
manly a consequence of the Munich conference From the course the 
conference had taken, and from the fact that the Soviet Union tsas 
kept out of it, Stalin drew the conclusions that the \Vestern powers 
had no intention of shoeing Hitler serious resistance, and that they 
would even support him if he turned upon the Soviet Union But 
H itler, too. was pushed, by the events of Munich, in the direction of a 
settlement with the Soviet Union Particularly, the remarks which 
Neville Chamberlain had made on his return to London confirmed 
Hitler m the opinion that he had to create additional safeg;uards 
if he wanted to gam further successes with his old methods 
Once again the world took notice when, in late December, 1938, 
news came from Berlin that a German Soviet trade agreement had 
been signed in the German capital True, it was a rouune affair, since 
the continuation of German Soviet trade depended on the annual 
renewal of such business transactions but the fact that on this oc 
casion the agreement had been signed in time, and not with the great 
delay of the previous year, was regarded as symptomatic The con 
elusion of the agreement served as ihe prologue to further German 
So\iet talks that had been suggested by the trade representation of 
the USSR In these discussions, camed on by the Soviet trade rep 
resentative and karl Schnurre, both sides expressed great interest m 
the creation of broader bases for commodity exchange they also 
made arrangements for Schnurre s trip from Warsaw to Moscoiv in 
the second half of January, which was canceled so abruptly 
In spite of the ill feelings and suspicion created by this slap to 
the face of the Soviet goi eminent, the thread that was being spurt 
between Moscosv and Berlin did not break again, and the behavior 
of the Kremlms reprejentatiies m Berlin obviously showed that 
they had been ordered to continue spinning it upon every suitable 
occasion If there ii ere still any doubts concerning the Soviet motives 
in these overtures, they should have been removed by Stalin’s speech 
of March lOlh, at the Eighteenth Party Congress, in which he clearly- 
stated that there were no unsurpassable diEerences between the two 
countries apart from their ideolt^cal disagreements But, said Stalin, 



290 

The Incompatible Allies 
other power, seem to be a, ^1, deepen the exmmg conto 
Enetef FrL?h ''“1'“'”'°“ the Soviet Ukrame .n the 
as ft th« ™"“" P"" • Itlooht very much 

^ins?re3“°“ “ “““= ■'>' Umon 

Am ,V ,h r™’'' “ '’“r" ““"“Ph^te, and to provoke a con 

flict With Germany without any vmble grounds . . The Soviet 
Union IS no, willing p„l, diestnum out S die fire for anyoL e^ 
arat.o^ or “ '‘"'“'“Uon contributed substanuilly to prep 

a"“eac,l '^“lan Soviet understanding An imL’T 

must have re '“tlhcouiing, however, and Stalin 

dramatic show of a change in policy 
person^ ’‘c’" t™ovcd Thf change rf 

hr™eerr,hr fhmptness A, the May Day parade 

Mav 2nd and a d t®''t®tring stand tn Stalin's closest entourage, on 

WiLm Seeds One daySr^M * 

DMf hart Moscow press announced that his 

Comm „ Chairman of the Counal of People's 

Cornmtssar, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov 

policiesThat* * a<lministrator, a capable execuuve of 

™ In “■ =" experienced bureau 

however h “ P'"’'''*'”'' ■" the Foreign Commissariat, 

or in which I took° ““"d In negotiauons which I witnessed 

seemed to leper, showed any persona] initiative, but 

lem“ came 3 1 >" “ hy Stalin kVhen [irob- 

"government "' regularly say that he had to consult his 

.Cor™. 2p/ ‘’’Pr’ ““"P'' tehavror tn an 

Count Sch„lenbu?g”'cSed ™T'" ''“Sust 19, 1939 

the effect that f ^ transmit a communication to 

two powers R ihvT pact was concluded between the 

pro.oU:i:’th?se™m“e''nr™l'’' T > ’P""' 

Althoueh surh a rt- i ^ spheres of interest in the Baltic area 
ment wanted. Molotov d?d°" ".T Soviet govern 

-If The amU:;,riea ^ 

not been back obtaining an answer, but he had 

phone rang and he w!.."^i!^rt^ embassy £or ten minutes when the 
burned back, anrt K-ntIm at once He 

suited his ■ be had meanwhile con 

authoriaed him to k ” rt u only n;iean Stalin), which had 

m to hsnd the ambassador a drat, of the non aggres 



Nazi-Soviet Collaboration 


291 


Sion pace and uhich ViXJuld be erpcctitig the arrival of the German 
foreign minister at an early date for the conclusion of the pact. 

I am. sure that Molotov’s lack of adaptability and his fear of re- 
sponsibility have harmed the Soviet government m its dealings with 
the Western Allies, but it apparently was more important to Stalin to 
hav e a man u ho had no other ambition than to play the role of a will 
ing tool in his hands Besides his unquestionable loyalty, he has other 
traits which make him extremely valuable, for instance, an unflagging 
energy and exemplary devotion to his work His amazing memory 
enables him to master a vast and manifold complex of problems One 
thing which demonstrates his tenacity is the fact that even at an 
advanced age he succeeded tn overcoming a stutter which used to 
bother him very much 

■Whenever I observed ^^olotov at social occasions or official recep- 
tions, I alw ays had the impression that, basically, he felt very insecure 
and needed to remind himself of his own importance in order to 
manage an attitude of assurance After the first meeting between 
him and Hitler, on Noieraber 12, 1940, I accompanied Molotov to 
Bellevue CasUe, where he had been lodged ^Vhen I asked him what 
impression the Fuhrer had made on him, he replied spontaneously, 
and with obvious sincerity, **You know, he is not nearly so stern as 
I had imagined himl ' I thought his reply was indicative of the inner 
insecurity he must have felt when he first stepped before Hitler ^ 

His insecurity must have made him quite uncomfortable among 
the bnlhanc and imaginative minds still remaining in the Foreign 
Commissariat, an agency that had always had a very special attraction 
for the cultured, educated, and widely traveled ilite of the Old Bol 
sheviks because it oSered welcome opportunities to keep in touch 
with developments outside the Chinese walls enclosing Stalin's 
Russia But there, too. the purge finally caught up with them 

The kind of understanding which the cultured type of official had 
for IVestern ways of life and thought had become rather suspect in 
the late 1930 s In addition, Molotov personally seems to have all tlie 
inferiority feelings of a provincial Russian bureaucrat, for which he 
compensates by a narrow nauonalism and a deep-rooted suspiaon 
against foreigners and ‘cosmopolitans ” But whatever the reason, he 

I Molotov s discovery that Hitler was not after all so stem as he had ex 
petted may have contributed to the atifloess and intransigence he showed on the 
second day ot negotiations 



The Incompatible Allies 
wasted lutle time m undertaking a thorough house cleaning m the 
Foreign Commissariat and soon surrounded himself almost entirely 
witli Great Russians of die newly trained generation of Soviet civil 
servants 

With this, Molotov completed the process of replactng amateurs 
in Ihe Foreign Commissariat ivith professional administrators At 
the beginning of Communist role the notion had been that Bolshevik 
conviction or special meritorious service in the cause of the revolu 
non guaranteed an individuals eOectiveness in high administrative 
and exemtive positions, though Lenin had already recognized the 
fallacy of the idea But it took many years before a system of selection 
and naming could he created to ensure the education of a new 
pneration of competent civil service personnel Partly because the 
foreign service required men with 'cosmopolitan" backgrounds, and 
part y ecause of a party habit of transferring opposition leaders to 
foreign service posu, the Old Bolsheviks had retained leading post 
tions longer in the Foreign Commissanat than in most other gov 
ernmental agencies The great purge trials of 1936-1938 therefore 
pm a large number of former Soviet diplomats in the defendants' 
box, yet only Molotovs accession marks the final Iriumph of the 
new generation of Soviet civil servants in the Foreign Commissariat 
ne should not forget, however, that several of the old and expe 
rieneed officials who survived die puiges, but were swept out by 
Molotovs broom, were put to use in irainmg the new gmeraiion 
T eni were Litvmov and Maisky, the former ambassador in 

on, Rothstein. a former press chief in the NKID, and Boris 
collaboraior of Ch.cherin and Litvmov. under whose 
thp Sn ° made his first steps as representative of 

the Soviet government in the United Nations * 

marV^H h *" policy whicli is 

Ztlhe nrJ T ^ the ^eat purges 

p ce ing years Viewed in ibe light of this sensational diplo 

oE -von R^bbentropTl^^^ compare the elEect ot Molotov s accession with those 
the Soviet civil seTOre^?sl" M''"' •* 1938 Whereas in 
professional bureaucrats H?fi,./!!.Vl^T ^7 » "ew generation of 

over professional civil service men positions ot control 

“ Pmleuional i<In,m,»„,o„ wJdm m m ' '"“"“‘"‘I mteEtiiy be il 

were replaced by men whos» o t convinced Communists 

or non whow ouna„U„g ^ 



Aazi-SouiffI Collaboralton 


203 


matic act (and only in this light) the great purges can be regarded 
as a necessary preparation for the German Soviet alliance For only 
a Communist party purged of the BuVhanns Krestmskys Radeks 
and so forth could tolerate the treaty signed by Molotov and Rib 
bentrop in August 1939 therefore to claim that the purges meant 
the eUmination of a pro-German faction within the party appears 
utterl) ridiculous 

Litvinovs abrupt dismissal did not fail to impress Hitler Ti\o 
days after the German government had learned the news I recened 
orders from Berlin to come to Germany immediately and report to 
the foreign minister for consultation Until that time I had not met 
von Ribbentrop According to what I had heard about him 1 looked 
fonsard to the meeting with rather mixed feelings and the task 
assigned to me would surely have fallen on someone elses shoulder 
if Count Schulcnburg had not been in Teheran at the moment to 
represent the German government at the Iranian crown princes 
wedding while General Kosmng was traveling somewhere in east 
em Siberia 

^Vhen I arrived in Berlin I learned that von Ribbentrop was m 
Munich Since Hitler was staying on his Bavarian property on the 
Obersalrberg mountain and von Ribbentrop always strove to be 
in his close neighborhood My first meeting with the foreign minister 
took place m Munich on May 9lh The impression he made on me 
at the tune was confirmed by later observations when I became more 
closely acquainted with him He was a roan who occupied a respon 
sible position for which he had neither talent knowledge nor ex 
penence and he himself knew or sensed this very well As a conse 
quence he made himself abjectly dependent on a vast staff of expert 
and not so expert advisers who had to be at his beck and call every 
minute At the same tune he sought to hide his feelings of inferiority 
by an arrogance that often seemed unbearable That a minister 
should shout at a gray haired counselor until his voice snapped was 
unheard-of until von Ribbentrop introduced the language and the 
brutal tone of voice of a drill sergeant in the Foreign Office More 
over he was under a morbid compulsion to put his own person in the 
foreground all the tinje and to live in the grandest possible style 
The amount of time he wasted on bitter jurisdictional wrangles 
with his fello^v cabinet members is hard to believe He felt himself 
to be utterly dependent on Hitlers favor and graces and strove with 



294 

The Incompatible Allies 

hTaskefrV° »>« 

theFuhrerhai T “t" Hitler to tell him what 

menu^f H 'i." Trom state 

and ^deltod , “"fusions about Hitler’s mtetitioa, 

him as hi, T^' “i. opportunities, would present them to 

mm than r ?w ™ that Hitler 

tuttmn and T“ *0 "phenomenal i„ 

turnon and long range thinking „t his foreign minister" 

ow^ to b “""'■“‘0* »'n<J' von Ribbentrop thought he 

br^mnn „f?b "''"t’' >■' of'er the 

murder ft. h f f HiH't everywhere 

parte «rfo'b“' “ ” ‘P'“f ’ toi" > 

e«h”l«ninf r"“'" ‘=‘"■"5 no leu 

counselors "'‘‘"•'Sino'eand female secretanei. 

sZnTble for “P"' “'““'“nts and a numerous bod,-guari re 
wTf^^Z ‘'''''''■’•'OP’I Penonal safety The wS thing 
as required or * ^ Pm np ns tents here or there just 

from the Ribbentrop asked me in Munich, and 

?n“attifu! r" ':■* “t'H' ha l««ned to my report about the 
information to gif" to h!Z" “’^■1 he 'vanted 

missal harl v«.> e j the news of Litvinov’s dis 

an understand if mierest in the problem of whether 

state™" bTeilrR^bfm" P“”“' ^PP"'”'‘^ 

tng by tellinn me fl. . P'P"^”'” He concluded the meet 

mountain Ihft atiernff*'' Obeisalibeig 

gaden and hold myself m m'd""" ’ ®'"htes 

personally ^ readiness in case Haler desired to see me 

”'ght in a^otel however, and I spent the following 

at nicht Shorrlv k r where von Ribbentrop, too, arrived late 

Hulfr„as“2,';f”'f“" 

was still m bed as h h "i ^ one o clock Von Ribbentrop 

ready m frantic haste dunn/ *’^*’' 1 ! ? sleeping until noon He got 
and our denartirr* ^ which he completely lost his temper, 

■he curving’^™ "tef - -"rd trip over 

very lale m arrivmaft'Sf.rP *' mountain, s\e were 

gat Hitlers home Nervously fidgeting aides were 



Nazi-Soviet Collaboration 295 

running to and fro The Fuhrer, they t^hispered to us, had already 
shown signs of impatience 

A few seconds later I stood before Hitler, who approached us 
sloivly, gazing at us iMth strangely shifty, cunning eyes Neither then 
nor during later meetings witli Hitler did I feel anything of Uie 
hypnotizing effect that has been attributed to him At the sight of 
his small stature, the funny forelock that hung in his face, and the 
ridiculous little mustache, I felt only indifference, which in the fol 
lowing hour changed into physical revulsion produced by the fact 
that he was constantly chewing his fingernails After a short greeting, 
during which hardly a word was exchanged, we followed Hitler into 
a large room, the narrow side of which was entirely taken up by a 
huge window offering a gorgeous alpine view It was the only thing 
that made the room remarkable \Ve sat dowm at a round table. I 
faced Hitler, while von Ribbenurop sat at his right. Three other peo- 
ple were present during the comersation Colonel General Wzlhelm 
Keitel, the chief of the high command of the armed forces, Karl 
Schnurre, and Walter Hewel, von Ribbenuop’s liaison man in 
Hitler’s personal entourage An old personal fnend of Hitler’s, who 
had been m Landsberg Prison with him, Hewel was an exception 
among those in the Fuhrer s closest arcle, for he possessed not only 
very many pleasant human traits but also the open outlook of a 
man who has traveled abroad a good deal In this respect he was 
quite a contrast to Hitler, who had neither of these virtues — some 
thing, by the way, which Hewel never denied when talking with me 
On the previous evening I had discussed the impending meeting 
With Hewel, and I had svondered whether I, who lived in a com 
pletely different ideological world, could ever succeed m finding 
a common language with Hiller concerning Russian problems But 
Hewel assured me there would be no difficulties "Don’t worry about 
It at all,” he said "I bet be won i let you get a word m edgewise, 
instead, he himself will do the talking and then he’ll end the session 
before you 11 have had an opportunity to make any comments ” It 
turned out to be quite different. Hitler opened the discussion by 
asking for the reasons which might have caused Stalin to dismiss 
£.itvinov I answered that, according to my firm belief, he had done 
so because Litvinov had pressed for an understanding with England 
and France while Stalin thought the Western powers were aiming to 



The Incompatible Allies 
have the Soviet Union puU the chestnuts out of the fire for them in 
the event of uar Though Hitler said nothing he gave von Ribben 
trop a glance indicating that my explanation made sense to him His 
second question pursued the topic further Did I believe that Stalm 
mig t under certain circumstances be ready for an understanding 
with Germany? I was tempted to give Hitler a resume of German 
Soviet relations since 1933 and to remind him how often the Soviet 
government during the first years of his rule had expressed the 
desire of maintaining the old friendly relationship but I did no 
more than mention Stalm s speech of March 10th in which the So- 
viet leader had declared that there were no visible grounds for a con 
flict between Germany and the Soviet Union I was quite surprised 
when neitlier Hitler nor von Ribbentrop could remember what Stalm 
had said m the speech though the Moscow Embassy had given a de 
tai e report on it at the time At von Ribbentrop s request I quoted 
the pertinent passage once more 
Hiller gave no indication of his own views concerning an under 
standing with the Soviet Union Instead he asked me to tell hint 
loohed m Russia After Hewel s prognosis I had ex 
pected that least of all so I had to take a very deep breath before 
eci mg where to begin and where to end I began by outlining my 
Bolshevism constituted a great danger but that it 
« possible to neutralize it by engaging it m reasonable eco- 
<tr,^ pohucal ties I emphasized the undeniable successes of 

let industrialization and the growing strength of the Soviet re 
foTr loa^ ^ pointed out at the same time that the great purges of 
ffi "bich about 80 per cent of the Red Army s high rank 

corps had fallen victim had seriously weakened the mill 
administrative siructure of the Soviet state Elaborat 
ODDQ^lt.r.^ significance of the power struggle between Stalm and the 
thrown u bow much ideological ballast had been 

Dohtirai Stalin realized that a healthy and strong 

doctrines* could not be erected on the basis of Communist 

to foster revoluuonary enthusiasm Stalm was trying 

equaliiv patriotism I alluded to the condemnation of 

militarv resurrection of tsarist Russia s old 

parental ainh^* Hitler about the renewed strengthening of 

?e “““pi*"' 11>= fight ex 



Nazi Soviet Collaboration 


297 


Hitler had bent forward and i\as listening with eager attention 
Once when I had made a short pause he emphatically requested me 
to go on speaking IVhen 1 had finished at last I thought Hitler 
would now reveal his views about the future relations between Ger 
many and Russia Instead he dismissed me with a few formal words 
of thanks As 1 was told later he aftenvard expressed to von Ribben 
irop his displeasure o\er my tale about the successes of Soviet in 
dustrialiration and the strengthening of national consciousness in 
the population One possibility he said to von Ribbentrop is 
that Hilger has fallen victim to Soviet propaganda In that case his 
description of conditions in the Soviet Union is worthless. But if he 
IS right then we have no Ume to lose in taking measures to present 
any further consolidation of Soviet power 

Ten days after my visit to the Berghof the embassy was ordered 
to tell the Russians that we were now ready to resume discussions 
about a new trade agreeraent and would now be w tiling to send Dr 
Schnurre to Moscow to come to terms with Mikoyan To the ambas 
sadors surprise Molotov replied that the past months and particu 
larly the cancellation of Schnurre s trip in January had given the 
impression that the German government was not really serious about 
negotiations but was pursuing them only as a game with which to 
obtain political advantages elsctshere hence he could agree to a 
resumption of the trade talks only after the necessary political basis 
for them had been created In vain Count Schulenburg tried to 
make the foreign commissar explain what he meant by political 
basis 

In Berlin the ambassadors report created the impression that 
Molotov had gi\en a veiled rebuff to the German adsances Von 
Ribbentrop and Hitler thereupon decided to retire sulking into a 
corner and make no further advances In the Moscow Embassy on 
the other hand we tended to regard Molotov s w ords as an implicit 
invitation to come to a political understanding since he did not 
think good economic relations could develop m the long run ex 
cept in a politically tolerable atmosphere But this raised the ques 
tion whether such an overture could be taken at face value Had the 
Russians actually decided to come to terms with Nazi Germany or 
was their offer no more than a device by which Britain and France 
might be put under pressure? On the other hand ive saw Molotov s 
intransigence toward England his insistence on conditions which the 



298 The Incompatible Allies 

Western pot\ers could hardly be expected to grant Did he really 
•want an alliance with them? Whom was Stalin out to double cross? 
Though we reported all these doubts to Berlin in general we adopted 
a note of optimism it tvould be interesting to watch hotv Moscoiv 
would develop the matter further 

Whatever the mental reservations both sides still had the possi 
bility of a rapprochement had evoked keen interest m the two capi 
tals In the beginning of June the Foreign Ministry began to look 
into the Treaty of Berlin Formally it was still in force because it 
had been renewed indefinitely in 1931 and had never been canceled 
Yet It had lost e\ ery trace of meaning The question was whether 
It could be revived Or had u perhaps been violated or canceled 
by the so called Anti Comintern Pact? Would a Soviet British al 
hance violate it? On June 28ih Count Schulenburg had a conversa 
non with Molotov in which some of these questions were brought 
up By the middle of the month the trade talks really got a good 
start when Mikoyan s proposal for a credit agreement was accepted 
For the first time in years a Soviet officer appeared at a cocktail 
party which General kostring gave in the early days of July 

Toward the end of July Hitler apparently decided to take the 
initiative m working for a settlement with the Russians In the pri 
vate room of an exclusive Berlin restaurant Schnurre had a long con 
venation with the Soviet charge d affaires and the Soviet trade rep 
resentative on July 26th On this occasion both Russians explicitly 
described a rapprochement between Germany and the Soviet Union 
as corresponding to the vital interests of both countries On August 
3rd Count Schulenburg and I talked with Molotov for over an hour 
gaining the impression that the Kremlin was indeed ready to im 
prove Its relations with Germany but that die old suspicions against 
the Third Reich and its anu Soviet policies had not yet been allayed 
It would take much persuasion and patience to remove their in 
grained fear of German duplicity Nor did the ambassador believe 
they would be swept off their feet by intensive wooing I still think 
he wrote on August 14th that we ought to avoid any stormy ad 
vances concerning our relations with the Soviet Union it would al 
most inevitably have a bad effect 

But three days before the British and French military missions 
had arrived in Moscow At that pomt Hitler seems to have become 
fully convinced of the need to secure Soviet Russia s neutrality if 



NaztSoviet Collaboration 


299 


heivamcd to start a Mar with Poland before the end of summer In 
the early niom.ng hours of August I5th, the ambassador received an 
urgem telegram from von Ribbentrop instructing him to tell Molo- 
tov that the German foreign minister would be willing to come to 
Moscow to discuss the possibility of a treaty of friendship There is 
no doubt," the note read in part, ' that German Soviet P»'‘^ >>“ 
come to a histone turning point On the decisions which have 
to be taken will depend w hethcr the two peoples w til some ‘‘“y 
and without any compelling reason, take up arms against b 
or pass into a friendly relationship II has gone well with both coun 
tries when they were tnendl, and badly when they were 
After such frant overtures, Molotov could afford to stall and to 
bargain V.sihly impressed by the ambassador’s message, he cautioned 
that a trip of such an ■em.nent diplomat and statesman M von 
Ribbentrop required most careful preparations 
wished to have a few questions cleared up first Would Germany 
wdlmg ,o conclude a non aggress.on pac. w.th Soviet Won d 

she use her mduence on Japan ro rmprove Russia s ^ 

that country? And would the Baltic States be a topic in the discus 

sions to be held? _ fn nil 

When, two days later, Schulenburg gave “®'nnative replies to ad 
ol these questions, Molotov stated that he consi are , ^ 
elusion of a trade treat, to be a lurdter 

about a pohttcal treaty = He suggested , 

eommerL agreement should be followed b, a non Wes ‘On pact, 
and ate latter should be complemenred by « P™“”‘ 
ram rmporrant questions by a 

To this sutement of Molotovs %on xiSrimv that if the 

telegram directing Count Schulenburg “ “ ^ proposal con 

Soviet government would agree “ ^ ^ would be in a posi 

cetning his immediate deparlur^o ^ interests 

uon to sign there a speaal protocol settl g i’ 
m the Baltic area ,„a,cated that Hitler 

Although von tlie Lvict Union, Molotov 

was willing to yield the Balim Sta statement by the 

Still hesitated and demanded a oi P 

. nr„ 20lh Then he had demanded that 
Mlith this he reversed his »»»«* “ ^ political settlement now the po 

negotiations about a trade treaty l« base of the trade ulks 

htital settlement svas made dependent on 



300 The Incompatible Alliez 

German government Stalin, on the other hand, grasped at once 
what was being offered to him Less than half an hour after Molotov 
had dismissed us, we were recalled to the Kremlin, where the foreign 
commissar told us that he had meanwhile consulted his ‘govern 
ment” (Stalin) and had been asked to hand us a draft of a non 
aggression pact and to tell us that the Soviet government was ready 
to receive von Ribbcnttop in Moscow one week after the sigping 
of the commercial treaty, that is, around August 27th 

Still the development in Moscow seemed not to be progressing fast 
enough for Hitler, who had planned operations against Poland for 
the beginning of September and who wanted to have the Russian 
situation settled beforehand He therefore directed Count Schulen 
burg to transmit a personal telegram from him to Stalin in which he 
insisted that Stalin should receive von Ribbentrop not later than 
August 23rd Hitlers telegrani further said that with the signing of 
the commercial treaty on the previous day (August 19th), the way 
for the conclusion of a non aggression pact was now open and the 
problem of the supplemenury protocol desired by the Soviet govern 
ment could be settled m the shortest time if a responsible German 
statesman could come to Moscow 

The mentioning of the secret protocol by Hitler himself and the 
latters statement that ‘the tension between Germany and Poland 
has become intolerable and a crisis may arise any day" convinced 
Stalin that now it was time for him to act Thus, hevlet Hitler know 
his agreement for von Ribbentrop’s arrival in Moscow on August 
23rd 

I later learned from Hewel that Hitler received the message of 
von Ribbentrop's invitation to Moscow with exultant py, and that 
he exclaimed, drumming wnh both fists against the wall. Now I 
have the world in my pocketl" In the embassy, we too were seued 
with great excitement 

Von Ribbentrop arrived by plane about noon on August 23rd The 
first discussion in the Kremlin began at three thirty, it lasted for 
three hours and was continued in the evening Long after midnight 
the talks culminated in the signing of the non aggression pact and 
the secret protocol, both of which carry the 23rd of August as the 
dateline The German foreign minister left the Soviet capital twenty 
four hours after his arrival there 

It was the first time Sialin personally negotiated with the rep- 



Nazi-Soviet Collaboration 


SOI 


reseniative of a foreign go^ero^lent about international relations 
Until then he had avoided contact wth foreigners on principle, ex- 
cept for a fev. meetings sMth prominent persons like United States 
Ambassador William C Bullitt or some foreign journalists When 
ever foreign diplomats had sought to get m touch with him, the 
Foreign Commissariat had objected on the grounds that Stalin was 
purely a party man and did not deal svith foreign affairs Strictly 
legally, this status ended only in May. 1941, when Stalin took over 
Molotov’s job as chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars 
%Vhen von Ribbentrop, accompanied by Count Schulenburg an 
myself, entered the kremlin for the first time on August 23rd, he 
was convinced that he would first deal with Molotov alone, and 
that Stalin's presence could be expected in a later stage of negotia 
uons Therefore his surprise was very great when Stahn stood next 
to Molotov as we entered the room It was a move that was calculated 
to put the foreign minister off balance, it svas also meant as a hint 
that the treaty would be concluded now or never 
Stalin’s behavior was simple and unpretentious, an attitude that 
was just as much a part of his discussion tactics as the paternal benev 
olcnce with which he knew how to win his opponents and make 
them less vigilant But it was interesting to observe the swiftness 
with which the jovial friendliness of Stalin s attitude towar von 
Ribbentrop or the jocular and kind manner m which he dealt with 
one of his junior assistants turned into icy coldness when he rappe 


out short orders or asked some pertinent question 

I have seen with my own eyes the submissive attitude of the Re 
Array’s chief of staff. General Boris Shaposhnikov. when Stalin would 
convene with him I remember the officious and obedient manner 
m which people’s commissars like Tevosyan would rise from their 
seats hke schoolboys when Stalin would deign to ask them a question 
In all the conferences at which I saw Stalin. Molotov was the only 
subordinate who would talk to his chief as one comrade to another 
Yet one could clearly sense how he looked up to him, an ^ 

he felt to be privileged to serve him In subsequent meeting tain 

would often ask Molotov, at the beginning of a session, to ‘:haiT the 
ducussions Perhaps that was because officially Stalin i no y 
occupy a government post But it obviously was one o t ic ru e 
game that Molotov would retuse to take over aj chairman, and 
from then on Stalin alone would speak for the Soviet governme 



302 


The Incompatible Allies 
Once, when Stalin tried to make Molotov conduct the negotiation, 
the latter argued ' No, Joe, you do the talking, I’m sure you’ll do 
a better job than I." Then Stalin outlined the Soviet point of view 
m his concise and clear manner, and Molotov turned to the German 
delegation with a smile of sausfaciion, saying “Didn’t I tell you 
that he would do a better job than I?" 

Every other Politburo member's behavior toward Stalm seemed 


to reflect a particular personal relationship with him The tone of 
his conversation with Voroshilov was cordial, as between comrades, 
with Beriya and Mikoyan he was friendly, and with Kaganovich 
matter-of fact and somewhat reserved I never heard Stalin say any- 
thing to Malenkov, but at public occasions I attended , as for instance 
the sessions of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, he -would 
usually sit down next to Malenkov and eagerly converse with him, 
demonstrating a particularly close relationship between them 
In meetings with Stalin he frequently surprised us by the extent 
of his knowledge in technical questions that -were being debated, 
and by the assurance with which he made decisions Even in matters 

0 sty ^ when the problem was to find the correct words for a diplo- 
matic document or an official communtqud. he would act with as 
surance and display great judgment and tact I remember handing 
him the draft of the joint communique explaining the Soviet move 
into Poland, which I had translated into Russian Stalin glanced at 

1 quic y, en took a pencil and asked the ambassador’s permission 
0 ma e a ew changes m the text He did so in a matter of minutes 

without once consulting Molotov, who sat beside him. then he 
handed me the amended text, asking me to translate it into German 
or the ambassador I whispered to Count Schulenburg, "He has 
mprove it tremendously " Indeed, Stalin's text was a much more 
announcement of the move we intended to bring to 
..j ^ Romans,” Stahn said, turning to me, 

-P . ^ battle naked, but covered themselves with shields 

^ worded political communiques play the role of sucli 
t ^ original draft had been transmuted to us from Berlin, 

am.nH . 7 !" ^ ambassador shared my opinion of the 

stand Tb ^ Berlin’s consent to let the changes 

both tPvr granted at once Later I was told that 

immed^.i 1, submitted to Hitler for comparison, and he had 
mmediately chosen the one drafted by Stalm, saying, "This one. of 



Nazi-Soviet Collaborahon 

course Don't )Ou see that it is much better? By the \\ay, t\ho v-TOte 
It? ’ 

1 \\as similarl) impressed by Stalin’s technical knowledge when, 
for instance, he chaired a meeting of German and Russian experts 
discussing the ordnance specificitions of the turrets for a cruiser 
which Germany was to deliver to the Soviet Union or when the Ger 
man trade delegauon discussed with Stalin the volume and char 
acter of deliveries to be made by botli countries \Vithout Stalins 
express permission it was impossible to obtain any Soviet agreement 
to sell us certain raw materials, but once his permission had been 
given It vvas tantamount to an order which was faithful!) execme 
The negotiations of August 23rd proved to be easy Von Ribben 
trop brought no new proposals but repeated himself in the i eas 
which had been discussed at great length m the preparatory talks 
between Molotov and Schulenburg, and which were also contained 
in HiUer's telegram to Stalin Von Ribbentrop indulged m over 
whelming declarations of friendship to which Stalin gave ry» ac 
tual and brief acknowledgment The wording of the pact proved 
no diEculty since Hitler had accepted the Soviet draft in principle 
The final draft contained two important additions, «, in 

whet the two parties agreed to consult and inform each other con 
tiimously on all diplomatic steps to be taken m matters of interest 
to the other party, and Article 4 providing that neither partner 
could participate m any power bloc directly or indirectly aimed 
against die oAer power The duration of die pact was changed from 

the five years originally proposed to ten years, an tic e 

that die pact would be valid after s.gn.ng not alter tts ra.iScat.on as 

sreamst emphasts on die secret protocol^ 
was to be appended .0 the pact Accorfmg to the proto^ the line 
ol demarcauL between the spheres of influence 
die Soviet Union m the Baltic area ran along die ‘■“"f ^ 

ol Lidmania, whereas r„ Pf 
and San rivers * The secret protocol turiner t 
recognition of Soviet claims for Bessarabia 

mrnded in the treaty of friendship 
♦Upon Stalms Lihuania became part of the Soviet 

signed five weeks later on Sept >» ,^„o,nsed by the Polish temtoiies 

sphere of interest For this Germany «s recorapensea oy 
situated between the Vutula and Bug nvas- 



S04 


The Incompatible Allies 
After the final text of the pact and the protocol was agreed upon, 
von Ribbentrop submitted a draft for a joint communique to be 
published by both governments on the following day The text 
praised the neivly formed German Soviet friendship in flouery and 
bombastic terms Stalin read it and smiled indulgently 'Don’t you 
think, he said, turning to the foreign minister, "that ive have to pay 
a little more attention to public opinion in our countries? For many 
years now we have been pouring buckets of slop over each others 
heads and our propaganda boys could never do enough in that direc 
tion, and now all of a sudden are we to make our peoples believe 
that all is forgotten and forgiven? Things don't work so fast Public 
opinion in our country, and probably in Germany too. will have to 
he prepared slowly for the change in our relations this treaty is to 
bring about, and will have to be made familiar with it ” With these 
words he suggested a more moderately worded communique which 
was readily accepted Apart from this little lecture on diplomatic 
finesse, Stalin was very polite throughout the discussions, and his 
initial reserve gradually turned into a certain jovial friendliness that 
was very characteristic of him At the end of the discussions champagne 
was served, and Stalin even proposed a toast to Hitler 
After the conclusion of the treaty of August 23rd, and especially 
of the treaty of September 28th, the German negotiators were feted 
lavishly by Stalin Upon these occasions he voiced some opinions 
which may have been attuned to the need of the moment, but which 
may yet permit certain conclusions as to his thinking Thus the tone 
in which he talked about Haler, and the manner in which he toasted 
im led to the conclusion that he was visibly impressed by certiin 
traits and actions of Haler, but I could not help feeling that they 
were precisely the traits and acts which would be most sharply re 
jected by Germans opposed to the Nazi regime The admiration 
y e way, seems to have been mutual, with the difference, how 
ever, that Hitler remained an admirer of Stalin’s until the last mo- 
ment, w ereas Stalin's attitude toward Haler after the attack on 
e oviet nion is said to have turned first into burning hatred and 
later into contempt 

Stalm did not seek to hide hu dislike and distrust of England In 
eyes Entam was past her prune and had lost her ability to male 
great political decisions Htmever, he spoke with unconcealed re 






Nazi-Soviet Collaboratton 


305 


spec! o£ the United States and particularly her economic achieve- 
tnents 

Stalin was quite frank about his view of Japan as a dangerous 
adversary He boasted of the lesson which Soviet troops had dealt 
the Japanese during a border incident and mentioned with almost 
sadistic glee that tisenty thousand Japanese had been killed on that 
occasion "That is the only language these Asiatics understand, he 
said "After all, I am an Asiatic too. so I ought to know " 

How could the German Soviet Non Aggression Pact be signed by 
two governments who had for years been on the verge of a complete 
break? How, particularly, could the Kremlin make such a dramatic 
turn from its previous policies? 

Throughout the years we have called the Litvinov era. the pos- 
sibility of an alternative to the policy of collective security was 
quite absent, even though conditions for it became ripe only m 19S9 
Like the policy of the mid 1930 $. the possible alternative would have 
been based on the tear oi Gennany There was common agreement 
m Russia that Hitler’s Germany presented a great and immediate 
danger to the continued existence of the Soviet regime But t ere 
were, at least in theory, two ways to meet the threat a friendly one 
and a hostile one In the first months o£ Hiller s rule, Litvinov him 
sell had been among those who tried to convince the Germans that 
the change of governments in Berlin need not be an obstacle to the 
maintenance of friendly relations To be sure, the lorei^ commissar 
had been less optimistic m his attempts than some oE his assistant, 
or the military leadeis, had In any event, their futility had soon be 
come apparent, and the Soviet Union accepted the tonsequences 
by joining the League (November 18. 1934) and concluding mutual 
assistance pacnw.rFtance (May 2- >”5) 

16, 1935) in entire foreign policy now moved tn the dne« on of 
uolating Gennany even while avoiding an open clash, to this end 
close a "d de^iimed ctvoperation among all countries dareatened 
by *e Axis was promoted 

There is nothing to indicate ^ j rash in 

bus full support m the pursmt ^ i ,„en outside 

deed to imagine that the Kandelaki, represented 

diplomatic channels, hke j, be imagined 

Views opposing the official foreign poi w 



306 The Incompatible /Hiiej 

tliat Litvinov himself believed it necessary to extend such feelers 
again and again, if only to sound out Hitler's intentions and moods 
As Hitler took step after step in his program of attaining mastery 
over Central Europe and tearing up the Versailles settlement, argu 
ments both for and against the current Soviet policy toward Ger 
many gained m strength On the one hand. Hitler’s successes in 
creased the Kremlin’s determination to stop him, the stronger 
Germany grew, the more Moscow labored for collective security, 
for with every new stroke of the Third Reich Russia’s security be 
came more dependent on England and France But the longer they 
struggled for a united front against the Axis, the more the Russians 
became aware of the West’s irresoluuon in stopping Hitler, and the 
Munich Conference, of September, 1938, led them to the conclusion 
that the Western powers not only were unwilling to resist Hitler but 
might possibly welcome German action against the Soviet Uruon 
The policy of collective security had become an impossibility, if 
this were true Stalins suspicions were heightened by the behavior 
of the English and French during their Moscow negotiations m the 
spring and summer of 1939 Their unwillingness to make sacrifices, 
dieir inability to persuade Poland and Romania to do so, confirmed 
Moscow in the view that the Western powers would, indeed, like to 
engage the Soviet Union in a war with Nart Germany, but that they 
would not be willing to pay the price 
Ever since Munich, Stalin must have ihought about an under 
standing with Germany, though it is highly unlikely that he had 
such thoroughgoing agreements in mind as were made m August and 
September of 1939 Almost until the last days before von Ribben 
trop’s visit to Moscow, the Soviet government continued to consider 
the other alternative — a firm alliance with England and France 
The unfaiorable development of the talks with the British and 
French and the broad perspecuves offered by a grand settlement 
with Germany, made Stalin deade for a pact with Hitler It had al 
ways been the kremlin’s firm conviction that, sooner or later, war 
would break out between the capitalist powers It the Soviet Union 
could be kept out of such an armed conflict, she could be expected to 
reap great benefits from it, since the capitalist powers w'ould be 
weakened, and the balance of power would be shifted in favor of 
Soviet Russia The declarations given by the Germans a few days 
before signing the pact convinced Stalin that Hitler would invade 



Nazi-Soviet Collaboration 

Poland as soon as the Sosict Union would bad him up Jloreover, 
because Stalin had no doubt that England and France nould honor 
their obhgauons toward Poland, a war between the Western powers 
and Germany could be considered a certaintl, and. according to 
Stalm s calculations, it would be a long war which would exhaust all 


the countries involved in it. 

Moreover, in Stalin's eyes the conclusion ot a non aggression pact 
with Hitler meant the removal ol the danger ol a German attad on 
the Soviet Unton This danger had weighed on the Soviet govern 
ment and people like an evil nightmare ever since 1933. 
alter the evenu of 1937-1933 had substantially weakened the Red 
Army Stalm had little fear ot Germany s turning against 
ally after a victory over Poland because he ssas convince ® 
bulk of Hitlers war machinery would be engaged in the West 
a long time to come Thus he hoped to gam valuab e time 

the Soviet armaments program at an accelerate pace n . 

should watch further developments At a propitious mome , 
the warring nations would be weakened sufficiently. wou d be 
in a position to throw the power of the Soviet Union into the scales 

°'^ht dchmuLn ot .merest spheres, finally, 
upon m dte secret protocol uppended to the 

gate the Soviet Union possession ol some earlier 

posiuons in the Baltic area Two bun re an , f j. 

Peter die Great had spent two decades tn V 

same posiuons. while the pact with Hitler maet^^ 

lap without fighting The ealtem frontier 

mean a dtminution of Japanese pressure agreements 

In brief. Sml.n had all reason to be satisfied ^'orhe 

behadmadewith Hitler 
showed when the treaty was signed a 
which he looked after its exemnon 

As for Hitler. I can say Ute ‘“''-'‘"S ™"„e„. few months 

the Soitet Unton German Russian agree 

he appears to have believed „ but would for a 

tnents not only fulfilled thmr ^n^.p that could benefit 

long ume to come form the basis f effect that Hitler 

both partners I have rebable entourage tn die 

repeatedly voiced this opiruon before ms 



The Incompatible Allies 
fall of 1939 Upon such occasions h£ would declare his rapprochement 
with the Soviet Union to have been a great political stroke, and he 
would emphasize how each country complemented the other very 
favorably The circumstances under which Hitler made such re 
marks left no doubt that he really believed what he said 
Apparently Hitler was not at that tune worried by the idea that 
Stalin might put a Germany weakened by the war under pressure 
On the contrary, he seemed to be convinced that Germany’s mill 
tary superiority was secured for a long time and that, for that reason 
alone, Stalin would feel obliged to adhere to the existing treaties 
We shall speak afterward of the change m Hitler’s attitude to Stalin 
and the Soviet Union which took place later 
Apparently some persons in the Foreign Ministry were against tlie 
pact Ernst von Weizsacker. von Ribbentrops permanent under 
secretary at that time, claims to have been opposed to it, or at least 
to have hoped for a great delay in its conclusion He says he argued 
that Hitler would attack Poland, and plunge Europe into a second 
World War only after securing Moscow’s neutrality A delay m the 
Kremlin might thus save the peace for another few months 
Neither Count Schulenburg nor I shared these views, on the con 
trary, we desired nothing so much as the normalization of German 
Soviet relations because we considered the existing situation to be 
untenable and feared that it might, in the end, lead to an armed con 
ici If we cautioned von Ribbentrop to go slow, it was because we 
thought we knew the semi Asiatic temperament of the Russians, who 
would not let themselves be rushed excessive haste, we reasoned, 
might spoil everything But, despite some forebodings that haunted 
me on August 23rd — I shall speak about them in a moment — the 
Sluing of the pact meant the crowning of many long years of my 
e or^ on behalf of good German Soviet relations Both Count 
iichulenburg and I moreover, thought for a long time that the pact 
wou , ar from unleashing a war. serve as an instrument of peace 
n retro^ect this may sound naive or even unbelievable None the 
ss we oth actually hoped that the new constellation of forces re 
treaty would cause the Western powers to caution 

n an persuade her to seek a compromise with Germany Our 
assumption that Hitler, in turn, would be 
maltf V ® 'corridor through the corridor,” and 

no urt er territorial demands Hence, we saw in the pact not 



Nazi-Soviet Collaboration 


309 


only a brilliant coup that would settle the German Polish problem 
but also the only solution to prevent a second World War An era 
of peace seemed to be daivning, and in contrast to tlie Treaty of Ver 
sallies It seemed to be a peace that would secure Germany a power 
ful position on the European cwiiincnt 

In the later stages of the negotiations, when we became aware of 
Hitler’s war plans against Poland, we consoled ounelves that such a 
conflict would still he preferable to a German Soviet clash, yet the 
feelings with which the ambassador and I executed Berlin's orders 
in the last stages of the discussions were mixed 

My worries grew as the further course of developments became 
more and more discernible, I voiced them even to von Ribbentrop, 
though in somewhat veiled fashion On August 23Td as von Ribben 
dop, Schulenburg, and I were just about to depart for the Kremlin 
for the foreign minister’s first meeting with the Soviet government, 
the minister suddenly took me aside and asked in an unexpected 
lush of humane concern ‘ You look so worried Is there any reason?' 

I replied ‘That is correct, Herr Reichsminister 1 am indeed quite 
worried, for I behese that what you are about to do m the Kremlin 
Will go well only as long as Germany remains strong” With this I 
wanted to say that I now thought a war with the Western powers 
unavoidable in the event of a German attack on Poland, and that I 
doubted vihether Cermany would, in the Jong run be a match for 
the ^Vest Von Ribbentrop seemed to have understood me, but he 
did not take up the idea 

“If that IS all,” he said lightly, ‘ then 1 can only tell you that Ger 
many will be able to deal with any situation that comes up " 

The mass of the Soviet population received the news of the treaty, 
on the whole, with relief and satisfaction For them a German-Soviet 
understanding meant the removal of the war scare which had 
weighed on them like a nightmare since 1933 I myself heard several 
remarks m this direction from Russians It became apparent that 
the propaganda campaign whidi the Soviet state had for years waged 
against Nazi Germany had not been too successful in inculcating a 
lasting hatred of Germany in the population Instead, the majority 
readily followed the turn in official Soviet policy and registered with 
satisfaction all indications to the effect that the Soviet government 
w^as serious about the new settlement The population seemed sur- 
prisingly receptiv e for official Soviet explanations in which the West 



310 


The Incompatible Allies 


ern powers were designated as warmongers and accused of having 
wished to use the Soviet Union for their own selfish purposes A 
two line ditty which made the rounds of Moscow at the time mirrored 
the widespread opinion that the pact would greatly benefit Soviet 
Russia s international position Parodying a popular saying about 
Peter the Great the verse thanked Ribbentrop for having opened 
a window on Europe for the Russian people by giving them ac 
cess to the Baltic shore (Spastbo lashe Rtbbentropu chto on otkryl 
okno V Evropu ) 

At no time were there any signs that the Politburo was not unani 
mously backing Stalin s decision to make the treaties with Germany 
On the contrary everything indicated that the Politburo members 
shared Stalins view concerning the usefulness of an understanding 
with Hitler At the same time I frequently had the impression dur 
ing the negotiations that the Soviet side could make decisions so 
quickly only because Stalin often did not think it necessary to con 
suit the members of the Politburo Molotov as foreign commissar 
seemed to be the only one at that time who functioned as Stalins 
permanent adviser 


Here and there it became apparent that the sudden change of 
course created some consternation and insecurity among ordinary 
party members who were not initiated m the mysteries of high pol 
Many comrades seemed to have a hard time getting used to the 
idea that overnight Germany had turned from Enemy No 1 into a 
friend Some voiced fear of war Would not Germany turn against 
Soviet Russia after swallowing Poland? No one of course dared to 
voice open and sharp criucism and no crisis rocked the party The 
pu^es of 1936—1938 insured Stalin against that Yet because the 
ea ers felt the necessity of paying respect to such sentiments within 
^ *** closed meetings at which only party functionaries and 

so called activists participated the slogan was promulgated that 
e un erstanding with Germany was no love match but only a 
marriage of convenience which could at any time be adjusted to 
conditions Moreover it was emphasized again and again 
fifT ^ ^ party comrade was to have unbounded con 

ence in Stalin who knew exactly what he was doing and why 
^ time the entire vast propaganda machinery of the party 
explanations of the shift for every citizen who 
S ave felt puzzled and perturbed In Moscow s Park of Culture 



Nazi-Soviet CollaboTOtion 


Sll 

and Rest, information booths tscre setup svhere "agitators,’ so called, 
patiently explained the new policy to all those who queried up lor 

enlightenment j . i f.»,. 

Outward manifestations of the shift were many Immediately alter 
the conclusion of the pact, all criticism of Germany and Ae Nan 

regime disappeared from the Soviet press stage, and screen 

there had been outbursts against Germany s policy toward the So- 
siet state and the old tsarist state now one could read about the 
importance of Gennan Rusuan friendship and the pioneering work 
o£ Germans in Russia s cultural developments The well known his 
tonan Eugene Tarle. who after 1935 had always tried to show Ae 
disastrous inRuence which Germans had had on the “J 

Russian Empire, discovered overnight dial the Germans had for a 
long time played a positive role m Russia In or er to 
Bismarek’s memory, and to familiarnc the Soviet pu ic w i 
polices, the Sum ^bushing House of the USSR ^ 

lishhisGetfanHettundErmncrungen The operas ol Richard Wagne 

were once again given on the stage of the Bolshoi T ’ 

and prosed very popular The olfictal German war e° o™,,. 
were printed conspicuously by all Sonet newspapers 
gotemmenl lurnished many other concrete rnd.carions of its good 
will for instance, u established supply depots lor Germ=" ^ 

tnannes on the shores of tlte Kola Peninsula an anum er 

Iron ihe German battleship Oral Spet. ivho had P 

to the Far East, were gnen permission 10 tras cl through 
Union and v\ere treated with courtesy and frien mess 

On September 1st, in tire early hours of the 
troops crossed the Pohsh border and began advancing 
try with amazing rapidity yVorld War II ha egun 
later Count Schulenbutg suggested to Molotov protocol 

ernment, in turn, draw the consequences o of in 

signed on August 23rd and move its troops into i p 
fluence in eastern Poland ipt himself 

Noted for his caution and pauence, Stalin re us remained 

be pushed into unpremeditated action For German 

calm Watching the advance of Hitlers armi -River entered 

troops, pursuing beaten „‘*occup)mg’his part 

the Soviet sphere of influence, he desisted 



312 The Incompaltble Allies 

of Poland, despite our urging expressing confidence that temporary 
disregard of the line of division between the two zones would not 
prevent the final division of Poland from being carried out as 
planned There were two reasons for his inaction Conscious of 
•world opinion, and loath to antagonize it more than necessary, 
Stalin V, as resolved to act only after a suitable pretext could be found 
to justify his move In addition, the Kremlin had overlooked Ger 
many's military superiority over the Polish armies and had therefore 
counted on a much longer campaign On September 10th Molotov 
had to admit to Count ScJiulcnbuig that the Red Army would re 
quire another two or three weeks Cot its preparations but during the 
next few days it became cleat that the definite collapse of Poland was 
imminent, and on the I4th Molotov told us that Soviet troops would 
be able to march earlier than expected £ven so he still proposed to 
wait until a good pretext had been found 

Such 3 pretext offered itself two days later, rvhen the Polish gov 
eminent fied abroad and found refuge in Romania None the less 
Stalm was not satisfied to justify the occupation of eastern Poland 
by the collapse of the Polish sute alone, but inserted in the com 
muniquds issued by the Soviet government the statement that the 
fall of Poland had obliged the Soviet Union to protect the interests 
of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian populations in the eastern parts 
of that country The question remained open, against whom these 
populations required protection, which gave rise to angry German 
comments But Stalm apparently thought the carefully worded an 
nouncement of the reasons for his invasion of Poland so important 
that he took some ill feelings on the part of his German ally in the 
bargain 

A similar lack of consideration was shown ivhen the Russians actu 
ally announced to us the exact time their troops would move At two 
o clock in the morning of Sepiember 17th Count Schulenburg Gen 
eral Kostring and I were called to Stalin, who had Molotov and 
Voroshilov with him At 6 00 a M four hours from now,’ Stalm 
announced, the Red Army will cross into Poland all along the 
border, and the Red Air Force will begin bombarding the area east 
of Lvov He asked us to notify German armed forces immediately 
so that incidents could be avoided General Kostring became ex 
cited at such short notice and almost desperately pleaded that the 
time was not enough to notify the troops in the field Clashes be 



NaziSomet Collaboration 


SIS 


tween German and Soviet troops vtould be unavoidable All his 
objections, however, were brushed aside by Voroshilov, who said, 
with unmistakable admiration of German military achievements, 
that the organizational genius of the German Army would surely 
find time, even on such short notice to relay the message In fact, 
when the armies joined hands in the center of Poland no incident oc 
curred to mar relations between the two countries 
Two days later Stalin called the ambassador to propose to him 
a revised delimitauon of spheres of influence which would give the 
USSR control over Lithuania vihile extending the German con 
trolled territory up to the old Curzon Line, thus eliminating a tump 
Poland that might otherwise have remained Von Ribbentrop wired 
his agreement and announced that he would come to Moscow to 
conduct the negouations himself 

At 5 00 p M on September 27th he arrived in the Soviet capital for 
the second time A number of high functionaries and Red Army 
ofBcers greeted him. and there was an honor guard The first dis 
cussion wriih Stalin and Molotov took place laie that evening, the 
talks were continued the following afternoon and ended in 
early hours of the 29th with the signing of a border and friendship 
treaty which carried September 28. 1939. as its dateline Its mam 
point was that the cw o govemmenu agreed on the division of spheres 
of influence as proposed by Stalin Some additional agreements were 
reached concerning the beginning of trade discussions Soviet oil 
deliveries, and the resettlement of the German national mmonues 
from the Baltic area In talking about the war in the West, von Rib- 
bentrop showed great optimism and he repeated several times that 
Germany did not need any military assistance from the Sovi« Union, 
though he expected the Russians to support the Reich with certain 


crucial raw materials 

In the late afternoon of Sepieinber 28th, Molotov gave a aiujue 
inhonorof von Ribbentrop Stalin as well as many high Soviet unc 
tionanes suchasMikoyan Kaganovich and Voroshilov, participated 
Sulin was in a very cheerful mood, and von Ribbentrop /e 
marked to friends that he had felt as at ease m the Kremlin as he had 
among his old Nazi cronies Stalm contributed to the life of the party 

by encouraging Molotov to propose toasts dravsing his neig 
convenauon and emphaucaUy urging everyone to drink Hehimselt, 

however, drank almost nothing that evening (It is well known that 



314 The Incompatible Allies 

in former years he was very fond of parties, and drank quite heavily, 
but he later became very careful upon his doctors’ advice ) I was sit 
ting diagonal!) opposite him Benya, who was sitting on my right, was 
trying to make me drink more than I wished Stalin soon noticed 
that Beriya and I were in dispute about something, and asked aaoss 
the table ‘ tVhat's the argument about? When I told him, he re- 
plied 'Well, if you don t want to dnnk, no one can force you ” 

Not even the chief ol the NKVD himself? ’ 1 joked 

Whereupon he answered "Here, at this table, even the chief of the 
NKVD has no more to say than anyone else ’* 

2 THE CURTAIN FALLS 

Poland was destroyed and divided Stalin, in our presence, had 
drawn a thick blue pencil line on the map that ran from the German 
Lithuanian border on the Baltic shores all the way south to the 
Slovakian boundary, and had staked out his claims to the Baltic States 
and Bessarabia Two exciting months had passed, and now the tune 
had come to survey the prospects for the future 

To me It seemed certain that the new German Soviet friendship 
sealed by two solemn trea ues, would be of advantage to both partners, 
and that it would be of long duration All the familiar arguments 
favoring close relations between the two countries went through my 
mind again, and I noted with satisfaction that there seemed to be no 
dissent from any quarter For many months there were neither docu 
ments nor hearsay evidence that Hitler intended to break the pact at 
an opportune moment and attack the Soviet Union Not till the 
Nurnberg war crimes trial did the world learn that a veiled reference 
to a future German Soviet conflict was made as early as November 23, 
1939, when Hitler spoke as follows to the chiefs of staff of his armed 
forces 

‘ At the present time Russia presents no danger She is now weak 
ened through a number of internal events Besides, we have the pact 
with Russia But treaties are kept only as long as they are expedient 
Russia too will stick to them only as long as she herself believes that 
this IS to her advantage Bismarck, too, thought that way Now 
Russia still has far reaching aims, particularly the strengthening of 
her position on the shores of the Baltic Sea We can oppose her only 
if we are free in the yVest In addition, Russia strives to strengthen 



KoiiSwiel Coliaboraiton Si 5 

her influence on the Balkan peninsula and aims to^sard the Persian 
Gulf But those are also aims of our own foreign policy " * Even this 
document shoivs that Hitler then had no ideas of a reckoning ^\ith 
Soviet Russia in the near future 

On the whole, the first year after the signing of the Rfoscosv treaties 
appeared to all but a handful of initiated as a honeymoon during 
which the partners outdid eacli other in demonstrations of good isill 
and co-operatton As a consequence, the embassy once again came into 
the limelight as an important link between the two countries lu 
personnel increased rapidly, and a number of its old members were 
promoted Some of the new personnel brought functions with them 
that had not been performed in the embassy before thus the German 
Forestry Office sent a forestry attache The Propaganda Ministry be- 
came quite interested in the activities of our press department More* 
over, a number of consular offices closed since 19S7 were reopened 
All this activity pointed to the conviction current m Berlin that 
the political ties with Russia could only grow firmer, and that a 
close relationship of collafaorauon would soon develop between all 
fields of endeavor in the two countries 

Similarly, there is ciery indication that the Kremlin believed 
firmly m the new political constellation Stalm thought he had gamed 
a breathing spell for a long time to come Granted that the v^ar in 
the "West would drag out into a long struggle of attrition, he could 
derive great advantages at little cost from a continuation of peaceful 
German Soviet relations And he often went out of his way to demon 
strate his good will 

True enough there were misunderstandings and fncuons from the 
'’Cry beginning to mar the new friendship Shells fleiv, as a matter 
of fact, toward the end of 1959 when Soviet batteries fired on. German 
ships o5 the Finnish coast and one German freighter was sunk by a 
Soviet submarine Moreover in the early months of 1940 there was 
a period during which Soviet friendliness cooled off markedly, and 
iheiT officials began to make all sorts of difficulties Instead of showing 
a benevolent attitude, the offiaal organs of the Soviet state during 
those neeks insisted on showing the strictest neutrality After the 
occupation of Denmark and Norway hoivever, a sudden return to 
friendliness could be noted All difficulties ceased, and apologies were 

8 Quoted in Heinz Georg Holtdack Tf as mirkitch geschah (Vytnphenborger 
Verlagsfaandhing Munehen J&19) p -IM 



316 The Incompatible Alhei 

offered that "excessive eagerness in subordinate organizations” had 
led to the temporary stoppage of grain and oil deliveries (The "sub- 
ordinate organization” had been none other than the foreign trade 
commissar and Politburo member Mikoyan ) There seems no doubt 
that the Kremlin had watched developments in northern Europe with 
increasing worry, and had reckoned with a British occupation of 
the countries controlling the exit from the Baltic Sea, hence derived 
Its anxiousness to show itself completely neutral, which was relieved 
only by the German action of April 9, 1940 

Two months previously, on February 11, 1940, trade negotiations 
begun in October, 1939, ended with the conclusion of an extensive 
barter agreement, in which the Soviet government agreed to deliver 
certain critical raw materials in exchange for German industrial 
products In prinaple it was agreed that the deliveries should balance 
each other in value Upon German insistence, however, the Soviet 
Union agreed to deliver certain raw materials in advance, since they 
were available immediately, while the production of machinery and 
other German deliveries required more time The point was settled 
after hard and seemingly fruitless bamming by a personal letter 
from von Ribbentrop to Stalin As a compromise, the Germans agreed 
to balance deliveries every six months 
The list of Items promised by the Russians was impressive, particu 
larly if we add deliveries still outstanding from the credit agreement 
of August 19, 1939 In the first twelve months the Soviet government 
was to ship one million metric tons of feed grams 900,000 metric 
tons of oil, 100,000 tons of cotton, 500,000 tons of phosphates, 100,000 
tons of chromium ore 500 OOO tons of iron ore, 300 000 tons of scrap 
and pig iron, 2 4 metric tons of platinum, and a number of other 
items, valued altogether at 600 miUioa reichsmarks The German 
deliveries were to comprise industrial products, machinery, and 
armaments, goods that were considered scarce in Germany, too The 
quantities for which Moscow had originally asked were considered 
exorbitant by the German negotiators, and they were scaled down 
considerably after Molotov admitted, in December, that he had never 
expected to receive everything for which he had asked Thus instead 
of three battle cruisers, the Russians had to be satisfied with one 
One great difficulty, from the German point of view, was the fact 
that almost everything the Russians asked for contained iron or 
steel, a critical raw material in the months shortly before the battle 



Wfl 2 i-Sov:et CollaboTatton 


317 


of France In order to get even a fraction of their initial orders the 
Russians finally declared themselves ready to ship more raiv materials 
to Germany than even v.e thought they could afford At this suge of 
the negotiations Stalin himseU had to be consulted we svere told 
that he svas the only one ivho couM oiemde a Soviet embargo on 
certain materials in which Germany was particularly interested 
Here loo Stalm was revealed to have not only the supreme power of 
making decisions but also a surprising amount of evpert knowledge 
He surprised us by explaining that Soviet German economic relations 
were a matter of mutual aid in whicli both sides were to make sacri 
fices his goiernment he continued showed its willingness by going 
down m its prices and by not insisting on hard currency payments 

On the whole the negotiaiiom were marked by the chronic sus 
picion of the Soviet negotiators and by the fear of responsibility even 
on the part of a Politburo member like Mikoyan this in part ex 
plains the fact that it took four months of active discussions to come 
to terms On the other hand the Russians manifested their intenuon 
of helping Germany so that the political relationship might be forti 
fied economically For die German war effort the result of the 
negotiations was naturally a tremendous success A door to the East 
had been opened wide and British efforts at an economic blockade 
of Germany had been weakened considerably 

It hy then did Hitler attack Soviet Russia less than two years 
after making high sounding treaties with her? What made him ex 
change the advantages of German-Soviet collaboration for the gamble 
of total war against a mighty empire? The answers to these questions 
can be gleaned only from the changing situation the changing hopes 
the shifting calculations and the errors m judgment of both sides in 
the course of the thirteen months from May 1940 to June 1941 It 
JS a story with which I am espeaally familiar because 1 personally 
participated in every one of the most important meetings and discus 
sions that took place 

One reason for Count Schulenbiirgs numerous visits to the Krem 
Im was furnished by Article 3 of the non aggression pact ivhich pro- 
vided for mutual consultation oa questions touclung the interests 
of both partners For a while each government faithfully informed the 
other of important actions il intended to take Thus on May 7 1940 
three days before the German invasion of Holland and Belgium 
the ambassador called on Molotov to inform him of Hitler s inten 



S18 The IncompaUble Allies 

tions The manner in which Molotov reacted to the infonnation 
showed that the Soviet government wholeheartedly welcomed the 
German step Molotov said that his government fully understood 
Germany s need to protect herself against an Anglo French attack, 
and he added that he had not the slightest doubts about a German 
success What the Kremlin expected from the German advance into 
Belgium and Holland was clear a stiffening of English and French 
resistance a prolongation of the war and an even more serious weak 
ening of Germany as well as her adversaries 

But in assessing the strength of the various armies and judging the 
presumable development of military operations in France Stalin had 
made the great mistahe of overestimating the importance of the 
Nfagmot Line and of counting on a long period of trench warfare 
between Germany and the Western powers Instead the Soviet gov 
emment saw itself obliged to congratulate the German ambassador 
on the victory in France as early as June 18 1940* At the same time 
Molotov notified Count Schulenburg that his government had sent 
emissaries into the Baltic States in order to secure the formation of 
new governments who would be more agreeable to the Kremlin 
Five days later Molotov told us that the Soviet government had de- 
cided to carry out the restoration of Bessarabia to Russian territory, 
if necessary by force, and to stake out claims for Bukovma 

Shortly afterward the Baltic Sutes Bessarabia and the northern 
part of Bukovma were incorporated into the Soviet Union It was 
obvious that the Soviet government worried over the lightning sue 
cesses of the German armies in France had decided to build up its 
oivn positions at an accelerated pace and to make the most of its 
agreements with Germany concerning spheres of interest In doing 
so Stalm was careless enough to include Bukovma in his expansionist 
activities though nothing had been said about the territory in the 
talks between the two governments Therefore the incorporation of 
Bukovma constituted a violauon of the agreements made in 1939 
When we lodged a protest with Molotov against the annexation of 
the northern part of Bukovma he not only tried to vindicate the 
but. even, wenjt to far ac ta- sWJai tbat. it the Soviet government 

«Tvjo monihs later tn August 1340 Pravdo looV. the oppottuaity to make 
comments about the sale of fifty Atnencan destroyers to Britain The transaction 
was taken by the Soviet paper as an indiotion that the war would still last a long 
tune in spite of Hitler s spectacular victory in France 



NaziSmigt Collaboralion 3l9 

should one day also seek to obtain the southern part of Bukovma it 
ivould expect Germany to support its claims 
In the preceding fall Finland had refused to meet Soviet demands 
for the cession of strategic bases on the Baltic shore, a refusal that 
•was used as a pretext to start a war nub Finland in Motember, 1939 
German sympathies clearly were tvith Finland m the struggle but 
the German goiemment not only kept neutral but supported the 
Soviet point of view in the German press since, in accordance with 
the secret protocol of August 23rd, Finland belonged to Rfoscows 
sphere of interest None the less, in the long run the Finnish question 
did throw a shadosv on German Soviet relations 
Another disturbance was added when Lithuania was occupied by 
Soviet troops The treaty o£ September 28, 1939, had provided that 
a small portion in the southwest corner of Lithuania was to go to 
Germany Nevertheless, the Red Army occupied it and treated it as 
part of the new Soviet Republic of Lathuania When the Germans 
protested, Molotov replied to the German ambassador, on September 
1$, 1940, that Stalm had examined the problem and that the Ger 
man claim for the piece of land was certainly justified None the less, 
his got eminent felt that it would be extremely difficult to fulfill our 
request, and they would appreciate it very much if Germany, in the 
true spirit of friendship and collaboration would try to find a way 
to permit the territory to remain with Lithuania Discussions on tlie 
subject lasted for several months, and a solution was found only much 
later m connection with talks about a second barter agreement On 
January 10, 1941, Schulenburg and Molotov signed a secret protocol 
in which the Soviet Union agreed to pay 51 5 million reichsmarks m 
compensation for the territory (In gold dollars, the sum was greater 
than that which the United States paid for Alaska) The time re 
quired to arrive at this rather insignificant agreement shosvs dearly 
to what extent the relations between the two countries had deterior 
ated 

The timing of Moscow s actions was much more significant for 
further developments than the actions themselves The Soviet govern 
ment began to strengthen its positions at a time when Hitler s sue 
cesses in the West had put him ma menul state bordering on megalo- 
mania At that tune statements of his became known in which he 
expressed the view that there was no limit to his possibilities More 
and more he talked himself into the idea that destiny had called him 



320 The Incompatible Allies 

to make an end of Bolshevism, and that he must not rest until he 
had conquered for the German people that Lebensraum which was 
Its due From now on he observed Stalin’s actions with growing sus 
picion and drew the conclusion that Stalm was systematically strength 
ening his position so as to be able to put pressure on Germany when 
the time was ripe It was in this mental state that Hitler, for the first 
time, around August 4, 1940, gave clear indications to responsible 
military leaders that sooner or later they would have to reckon with 
a military clash with the Soviet Union 

On Its part, the Soviet government, too, had reason to be critical of 
Hitlers behavior They were particularly worried about Germany s 
expansionist designs in the Balkan countries Thus Molotov expressed 
great annoyance over the so-called Vienna arbitration of August, 
1940, by which Germany and Italy decided a territorial dispute be- 
tween Romania and Hungary without consul ting Moscow, he claimed 
that the decision was in violaiton of Article 5 of the non aggression 
pact, which provided for mutual consultation If the German govern 
ment now denied its obligation to give prior information of acts 
affecting Soviet interests, he warned moodily, the question came up 
whether the clause was in force at all Three weeks later he lodged 
a sharp protest against the unilateral act following the Vienna arbi 
tration, by which Italy and Germany had guaranteed Romania s 
territorial integrity, and in early October he reacted wryly when 
Hitler dispatched German troop contingents to Romania He gave 
a sour smile when, following Berlins instructions, Count Schulen 
burg argued that Romania s oil fields had to be protected against 
British threats, and that most of the troops were only instruction per 
sonnel which the Romanian government had specifically requested 
Trade relations between Germany and the Soviet Union also de 
veloped unsatisfactorily, since Germany had very seriously fallen be 
hind with Its deliveries by the fall of 1940 Moscow announced that 
It would take advantage of its treaty right to stop its own shipments 
until Germany caught up on its obligations There were indications 
that the Soviet government had begun to doubt Germany s ability 
to fulfill Its delivery obli^lions For instance, the Soviet government 
no longer placed long term orders in Germany, instead, it limited 
Its orders to articles which could be delivered in eight to ten months, 
and svhich served the short range ends of Soviet military preparedness 
Thus German Soviet relations, in the course of one year, had taken 



Nazi-Soviet CoU&boration 


321 


on a character quite detrimental to the German interest Hitler was 
well aware of the fact, and therefore resolved, in the fall of I9i0, to 
enter into negotiations with the Soviet government, to probe into 
their intentions, and to draw the necessary conclusions from whatever 
the result might be 

Upon instructions by the German government, I notified Foreign 
Trade Commissar Mikoyan, on October 7, 1940, that my government 
had decided to resume immediately the recently interrupted trade 
negotiations and to send a competent German delegation to Moscoiv 
for that purpose 

On October 13, 1940. von Ribbentrop ivrote a personal letter to 
Stalm which seemingly aimed to restore the friendly atmosphere of 
a year before In nineteen pages he gave a detailed risum6 of German 
foreign policy in the last monilis, together with reasons and justifica 
tions for every step that had been uken He pointed out how 
important it would be to intensify the political and economic col 
laboration between Germany and Russia and assured Stalin that the 
Three Power Pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan, concluded on 
September 27, 1940, did not in any way violate German-Soviet agree 
ments He concluded by invittng Molotov to vjstt Berlin so that 
further development of the relationship between the two countries 
could be discussed The letter had a sincere ring, and the German 
Embassy, including Count Schulenburg himself, regarded it as a sure 
Sign that the recent irritations had left no scar, on the contrary, an 
even friendlier atmosphere could now be expected In fact, however, 
the kind invitation that had been tendered the foreign commissar 
was Hitler’s device to feel out Soviet intentions But, for the time 
being, the embassy was completely in the dark about his plans. 

In his short reply of Octo^r 21, 1940, Stalm. wuh hidden sarcasm, 
thanked the German foreign minister for his very instructive analysis 
of the latest events ' He agreed with von Ribbentrop that a further 
improvement of the relations between the two states was absolutely 
possible on the durable basis of a long range delineation of mutual 
interests The invitation for Molotov was accepted The style of the 
letter left no doubt that Stalm wrote it personally 

Four weeks later Molotov took o5 for Berlin where he arrived on. 
November 12. 1940. and stayed for forty-eight hours For the first 
time in history a chairman of the Council of People's Commissars 
traveled abroad on o^cisl business He was accompanied by more 



322 


The Incompatible Allies 
than sixty persons, including sixteen secunty guards, a physician, and 
three personal servants In Berlin the Soviet officials were extraordi 
nanly impressed by the pomp and glitter of the reception and by the 
splendid quarters th^y were given, something the proud and prestige 
conscious Russians seldom admitted 
The German ambassador and I went to Berlin at the same time as 
Molotos and returned to ^foscow together with him Among the high 
functionaries in the Soviet party were Dekanozov, later the Soviet am 
bassador to Berlin, and Merkulov, vice commissar of the interior, who 
later was promoted to minister for state security, and who was re 
sponsible for Molotov s personal safety Typical of Merkulov's men 
tality, and the consequences to which excessive secrecy and stupid 
subordination lead m the Soviet Union, was the following occurrence 
which happened during the trip to Berlin Shortly before we were 
to cross the German Soviet border, I asked Merkulov at what place 
we would change trams, as I had forgotten the name of the station 
at which the Soviet broad gauge stopped and the German normal 
gauge began ’ Merkulov replied, ‘ We shall change trams at such a 
place as will be designated by the chainnan of the Council of People s 
Commissars ’ In vain, I argued that I could not be satisfied with his 
answer, since the plai;e at which we had to change trains did not de 
pend on Mr Molotovs decision, but exclusively on where one 
gauge ended and the other began He stuck to his position, and I 
could do no more than have patience for a couple of hours and read 
the name of the station from the signs that were affixed to the build 
mg 

It was eleven o’clock in the morning, November 12, IQ-IO, when 
Molotov arrived in Berlin, and he left the German capital exactly 
forty-eight hours later in chose two days the following meetings took 
place a relatively brief discussion with von Ribbentrop at noon, 
a three hour session vith Hitler in the afternoon, and a dinner at 
the foreign minister s m the evening of the first day, brief visits with 
Goring and Hess the next morning,* lunch with Hitler, followed by 

I After annexing the eastern part of Poland the Soviet government had ex 
tended broad gauge up Co (he new boundaries 

» In his meeting with tjejs Molotov was interested primarily in the organita 
tional structure of the Nan Stale He wanted to know what the precise functions 
of the Deputy Fuhrers office were and the two men talked at length about the 
relations between party and state in their respective countries The conversation 
with Coring dealt exclusively with German Soviet trade relations Goring ex 



Nazi-Soviet Collaboration 


323 


another three hour session uith him then, after a dinner given in 
the Soviet Embassy, a final meeting of two hours in von Ribbentrop's 
air raid shelter during which Molotov held final discussions with the 
foreign minister I attended every one of these meetings from begin 
ning to end, but since the pertinent reports have all been published 
by the Department of State,* I shall forego a detailed description of 
everything that «as said and merely give my personal impressions of 
the meetings 

W'hen greeting Molotov on November 12th Hitler was surprisingly 
gracious and friendly After a few words of welcome he launched 
into a long winded speech, full of repetitions, in which he outlined 
grandiose hut vague plans for die division of the world between the 
remaining great powers (England was written off, on the assumption 
that her definite collapse was assured) He recognued Russia s need 
for safe warm water ports, indicated that Germany would gladly co- 
operate with the Soviet Union in atuining that aim, and assured 
^folotov that he was not interested in any eastward expansion He 
brushed aside any existent or latent territorial confiicts as meaning 
less, and his entire behavior showed that he was eager to win Molotov 
personally and slanted him to share his views And he seemed to 
succeed in this at first Nfolotov listened to Hitlers lengthy and re 
dundant explanations w-ith great attention and replied that he agreed 
in principle, though certain terms would still have to be cleared 
up \Vhen I accompanied him to his quarters afterward, he seemed 
relieved at Hitler s amiability 

On the following day, however, the conSict of the aims of the 
partners in negouation became so obvious that it was clear even 
then that there was little hope left for the possibility of reaching an 
understanding Molotov wanted to clear up questions connected with 

plained the difficulties and setbacks in Cermanys deliveries by the fact that the 
Soviet orders were too much concentrated m a very narrow sector namely, tool 
machinery and armament material commodiues that were in unusually great 
demand m Germany itself Molotov ibought however that Germany after oc 
cupjing extensive foreign territories now controlled increased resources so 
that his goverament could sciU not undexstand why Germany had difficulty in 
filling Soviet orders In addition Coring omplkiaed about the extent to which 
the Soviet Union had asked for technical aid some of its demands he said 
amounted to a request for manufacturing secrets On the whole the tone of the 
conversation was quite friendly and Goring revealed all the jovial character tram 
with which he impressed so many Western statesmen 

• JVaj fte/ahons (Washington IMS) 



324 The Incompatible Allies 

German Soviet relations m general, and with the treaties of 1939 in 
particular He emphasized that Germany, in violation of the treaties, 
was keeping troops in Finland, and demanded that they be with 
drawn He called the German action in Vienna and the guarantee 
given by the Axis powers to the Romanian borders violations of the 
agreement concerning mutual consultation He voiced desires con 
cerning the creation of security points for the Soviet Union in Bui 
garia, on the Bosporus and in the Dardanelles But not one of his 
questions was satisfactorily answered by Hitler Instead Hitler kept 
indulging in general speeches about the postwar division of the 
itforld Two things became clear in the discussions Hitler s intention 
to push the Soviet Union in the direction of the Penian Gulf, and 
his unwillingness to acknowledge any Soviet interests in Europe 
How Molotov himseU thought about these questions became apparent 
that same evening during the conversation with von Ribbentrop, in 
which Molotov emphasized Soviet interest not only in the Balkans 
but also in free passage out of the Baltic Sea The remainder of the 
talk with von Ribbentrop was devoted to the conditions under which 
the Soviet government would be ready to join the Three Power Pact 
between Germany, Japan and luly 
After Molotov s return to Moscow the Soviet government took the 
question up once more in the form of a memorandum which Molotov 
handed to the German ambassador on November 25 1940 The gist 
of the memorandum was contained m the conditions on which the 
Soviet government made its joining the pact dependent They corre 
sponded in the main to the wishes which Molotov had voiced to 
Hitler namely withdrawal of the German troops from Finland 
conclusion of a mutual aid treaty between the Soviet Union and Bui 
garia, aeation of strongholds at the Straits and recognition of Soviet 
aspirations in the direction of the Persian Gulf To this memorandum 
the Soviet government never received a reply Hitler considered it as 
proof that the Soviet government had decided to push its own desires 
and to resist the German aspirations He was not slow to draw con 
elusions from the Soviet governments arguments On December 18, 
1940 five weeks, alter Molntov 4 visU. uj. Bedm, Hulec issued the 
famous order known by the code name Operation Barbarossa it 
began uith the following words The German armed forces must 
be prepared to crush Soviet Russia in a swift campaign ' In 
Moscow, at the same time, several persons who had spread rumors 



Nazi Soviet Collaboration 325 

about an impending German-Soviet war were sentenced to long terms 
of forced labor 

Despite the tension which had entered into German-Soviet relations 
after Molotovs sisit in Berlin the trade negotiations resumed in 
October A\ere carried on in the following three months They ended 
on January 10 19-11 when a treaty was signed in which the Soviet 
goiemmcnt on the basis of reciprocity undertool^ not only to con 
tinue Its deliveries of gram crude oil cotton and so forth to Ger 
many but even promised some substantial increases At the same 
time the conflict over the southwest comer of Lithuania was settled 
None the less the German side retained some resentment over the 
treaty violation committed by the Soviet government 

In the first half of January 1941 German Soviet relations were 
sharpened further because the German government had sent strong 
contingents of troops into Romania on the pretext that it had to 
taVe preventive measures in the face of operations allegedly planned 
by the English in Greece thus openly revealing German intentions 
to march into Bulgaria which disturbed the Soviet government very 
much On January 17 1941 Molotov expressed anxiety to the Ger 
man ambassador by pointing out that the Soviet government had re 
peaiedly referred to Bulgaria and the Straus as security zones of the 
USSR and that it would have to consider the appearance of German 
troops m those areas as a violation of ns security interests At the 
same time Molotov voiced his government s astonishment that the 
German government had not yet taken a definite stand on the ques 
tions that had been raised in the Berlin talks of November 12-14 
1940 and that the Soviet memorandum of November 25th dealing 
with the questions hadremainedwithoutananswer This and similar 
demarches which followed received no more than evasive answers 
from Berlin which made the Soviet government increasingly sus 
picious of German intentions 

Tension was further heightened when Bulgaria joined the Three 
Power Pact on March 1 1941 and German troops marched into Bui 
garia These acts led to talks between the German ambassador and 
Molotov during which the latter envphasized the worry which the 
German step was causing hi$ government declaring again and again 
that Bulgaria was within the Soviet Union s security zone 

During the time when the German advances on the Balkan Penin 
sula had worsened political ties between Germany and the Soviet 



326 The Incompatible Allies 

Union, the Soviet government indicated by its attitude m economic 
questions that it tt/aated to prevent as much as possible any further 
deterioration of their relations In place of a certain reticence with 
which the Soviet government had fulfilled its delivery obligations 
toward Germany in January and February, 1941, March brought a 
surprising change Soviet deliveries suddenly jumped to a peak, in 
spite of the fact that Germany had fallen far behind with her de 
liveries and that there were no indications that the situation might 
change to the benefit of the Soviet Union in the foreseeable future 
It was obvious that the Soviet goiemment at that time wanted to 
avoid anything that might have contributed totvard angering Ger 
many 

In contrast, the Soviet government consciously ran the risk of a 
further deterioration of its relations with Germany svhen it con- 
cluded a treaty of friendship and non aggression with the new Yugo- 
slav government on the night of Augusts to 6, 1941 « Stalin obviously 
hoped to strengthen its will to resist, thus causing the war on the 
Balkan Peninsula to spread, and turning the immediate German 
danger away from the Soviet Union In this manner he would gain 
additional time for the purpose of pushing the Soviet armament 
prograin with the greatest vigor 

Within a few days after hostilities between Germany and Yugo 
slavia had broken out, it appeased that in weighing the advantages 
•which a German campaign on the Balkan Peninsula would bring the 
Soviet Union Stalin had proceeded from faulty premises Before the 
start of Balkan war operations, he is said to have stated that the 
Germans ivere in error xf they believed that they could advance as 
fast m the mountains of Yugoslavia and Greece as on the asphalt 
roads of France The Serbs, he argued, would give the Germans a 
hard nut to crack, for you could not compare the Serbs, so full of 
resistance, so used to hardships, with the French, hence the Balkan 
campaign would last a tong time and would test German strength to 
the utmost But Stalin had made as big a mistake m judging the 
probable course of the Balkan campaign as he had made m the case 
of Poland and France 

Nothing the Russians did between 1939 and 1941 made Hitler more 
genuinely angry than the treaty with Yugoslavia, nothing contributed 

** The government had j«sl replaced its predecessor •which hid (alien because 
It had joined the Three Power Pact 



NaztSoviet CoUaboraUon 


S27 


more directly to Ute final breaV, and Stalm rnust have sensed it Ever 
since the collapse of Yugoslavia and Greece cast its shadow, he left 
no stone unturned to appease Germany The first step was taken as 
early as April 13th, that is. a week after hostilities had broken out 
in the Balkans On that day Stalin appeared at the railroad station 
for Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuokas departure from Moscow, 
and he used the opportunity to pat the German ambassador on the 
shoulder, asking him to see that Germany and the Soviet Union 
vtfould remain friends He then turned to a German officer standing 
close to the ambassador (it was Colonel Kjebs. the assistant military 
attache), made certain that he was a German, and virtually insisted 
that he give confirmation of the lasting friendship between the two 
countries The colonel could only say, Ves. sir! ’ The demonstration 
was made in the presence of numerous witnesses, including almost 
the entire diplomatic corps During the next weeks and months it 
was followed by further proofs that the Soviet government was trying 
to keep the German government m a good mood and not to give it 
any reason for doubting Moscow's loyalty Thus the Russians faith 
fully continued to fulfill their delivery obligations promptly, even 
though Germany lagged behind with her delivenes to the 
Union as before The Soviet government went so far as to break, 
diplomatic relations with Nonvay. Belgium, Yugoslavia, and Greece, 
in May, 1941, under the pretext that they had lost their sovereignty 
by virtue of the fact that they were under German occupation 
The appeasement policy of the Soviet government did not, hovv- 
ever, make the impression on Hitler which Stalin had wis e an 
expected On the contrary. Hitler saw m the constant efforts of the 
Russians to prevent a conflict proof that the Kremlin was a rai o 
a military conflict with Germany because the Red Army was not 
ready for it, which increasingly confirmed him in his opinion that 
he would never again have such a good opportunity to cmsh the 
Soviet Union, destroy the Soviet regime, and provide the German 
people with the Lebensrmm it allegedly needed throug t e conques 


of Russian and Ukrainian territories 

Rumors about German troops concentrations at the Soviet border 
and an impending surprise allad meanwhile reached iheir peak 
They came to us from officials and occasional businessmen who had 
recently been m Germany Yet we had no concrete in icati^ a 
Hitler actually contemplated an invasion ot Soviet Russia On the 



328 The Incompatible Allies 

contrary, we evaluated the rumors as bluff, we thought the stones 
were being circulated deliberately, to eiuirt pressure upon the Soviet 
Union Evenifitwere true that German troops had been concentrated 
near the Soviet border, we thought that Hitler anted merely to 
extort some concessions from the Kremlin It could be assumed that 
such pressure would be of an economic nature, since Germany had 
a large backlog of goods that should have been delivered to the Rus 
sians, thus enabling the latter to bold back an equivalent amount of 
shipments to Germany 

In mid April the ambassador ivent to Germany to obtain reliable 
information about the situation and to make clear to Hitler the 
dangers of a campaign against the Soviet Union For this purpose the 
ambassador, aided by his immediate collaborators, wrote a suitable 
memorandum which he took with him to Germany and transmitted 
to Hitler after his arrival 

The composition of this memorandum was a collective undertak 
mg The ambassador, his minister counselor, von Tippelskirch. his 
military attache General Kostnng, and I drafted various portions 
and discussed them together Tippelskirch by the ivay, should be 
characterized as a dutiful and careful official who. in the crucial 
years 193&-1941 loyally carried out his orders but developed little 
initiative of his own Yet he had a keen eye for political developments, 
a sharp judgment, and a good deal of assurance 

A personal meeting between Hitler and Count Schulenbucg did 
not take place until April 28th On that occasion the memorandum 
was lying on Hitler s desk, but he did not indicate by a single word 
whether or not he had read it in the meantime, instead, he limited 
himself to general and meaningless political statements The am 
bassador took this to indicate that Hitler did not agree with the opin 
ions contained or thought by him to be contained in the meraoran 
dum Yet, as he took leave Hitler, quite out of context, dropped the 
remark ‘ Oh, one more thing I do not intend a war against Rus 
sial ' 

When the ambassador returned to Moscow on April 30th, and I 
greeted him at the aiipoTC.h* tncJcme. aside, and whispered ‘ The die 
has been cast War against Russia has been decidedl" Only when we 
continued the conversation while riding to the embassy, did he tell 
me what Hitler had said to him When I asked Count Schulenburg 
how this fitted with his remark that Hitler had decided on war, he 



NaztSoviet CollaboTaiton 329 

shrugged his shoulders m resignation and ansi\ered, “Well, he de 
liberately lied to me ” 

On May 6, 1941, Stalin took o^cr from Molotov the chairmanship 
in the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and thus ofhcially 
became the head of the government of the Soviet Union, thereby 
documenting his resolution to carry, from then on, the constitutional 
responsibility for the fate of the state To me it was additional proof 
that he was determined to keep the Soviet Union out of a conflict 
Tviih Germany, and to use all the authority of his person and hts 
official position to that end, if necessary The ambassador reported 
our impression to Berlin 

Without doubt Stalin had hoped that his action would make a 
suitable impression on Hitler and cause him to showr some modera 
tion It was a hope in vain, however, because Sialm had overestimated 
Hitler's political horizon as uell as his sense of realism 
Hulei was just as little influenced by the reports of the embassy 
which pointed out the faultless tone of the Soviet press and the 
punctilious fulfillment of economic agreements on the part of the 
Soviet government, seeing m them further proof that the Soviet 
government above all aimed to avoid a conflict with Germany 
Some time in May Colonel kreb$ returned to Moscow after an 
absence of several weeks When he paid a visit to my office, I sounded 
him out about the rumors o£ war that were going from mouth to 
mouth If there were anything true about the rumors, I said, it 
would be his duty to enlighten Hitler that a war against the Soviet 
Union would be the final ruin of Germany I appealed to Krebs’ 
knowledge of Russian history, repeating the old saying, “Often 
beaten, but never defeated’ , I alluded to the strength of the Red 
Army, the resilience of the Russian people, the vastness of the coun 
try, and its inexhaustible reserves “I know all that perfectly well,” 
Krebs replied, ' but I can’t use it in conversation with Hitler He 
doesn’t listen to us General Staff officers any longer after we warned 
him against the campaign against France and called the Maginot Line 
an unsurmountable obstacle He did it against all odds, and we have 
to shut up if we don’t want to nsk our heads ” 

For the German Embassy in Moscow the last weeks before the 
German invasion of the Soviet Union were a tragic experience After 

**On April 30 1945 Krebs died id the Fuhrers air raid shelter as Hitlers last 
chief of general staff 



S30 The Incompatible Allies 

the abortive efforts to influence Hitler with the memorandum of 
April the embassy had no more means at its disposal by which the 
course o£ events might be averted Moreover, in view of the character 
which German Russian relations had assumed, the ambassador for 
weeks hardly had an opportunity to talk to Molotov, especially since 
Molotov in his turn wrapped himself m silence 

The more time progressed and the longer I observed the behavior 
of the Russians the more I became convinced that Stalin was unaivare 
how immediately he was threatened by a German attacL Everything 
indicated that he thought Hitler was prepaniig for a game of ex 
tortion in which threatening military moves would be followed by 
sudden demands for economic or even territorial concessions He 
seems to have believed that he would be able to negotiate with Hitler 
over such demands when they were presented 
On May 5, 1 941, a grand banquet was given in the Kremlin for the 
graduates ol sixteen military academies ol the Red Army Ho foreign 
ers were present but a German correspondent named Schule was 
upped off about the proceedings by an informant who seemed reliable 
According to this underground source, Stalm gave a speech in which 
he made a careful and sober comparison between the striking power 
of the German and Soviet armed forces, and came to the conclusion 
that the Red Army, so far, was no match for the Wehrmacht Schule s 
informant interpreted the speech by saying that Stalin had obviously 
wished to prepare his audience for new concessions he would make 
to Germany The report and the interpretation fitted very well into 
the picture I had formed of Stalin s thoughts and intentions “ 


12 During the war informal conversations I had with officers who had partici 
paled at the banquet yielded a completely different story and make the gyrations 
of Stalins mind appear more complex than 1 had imagined According to these 
witnesses whose scones agreed with each other to a reioarkable degree a high 
ranking general proposed a toast to the peace policy of the Soviet Union The 
tOaSt they said elicited the {ollowmg reply from Stalin The slogan Long live 
the peace policy of the Soviet Union is now outdated Its about time to end this 
old nonsense It u true with our defensive policy we have succeeded in extend 
ing our borders in the north and the west and in increasing the Soviet popula 
tion by 13 million But (his is now over With this slogan we won t be able to 
win another fool of territory Instead well have to get used to ihe idea that 
offensive action is necessary The era of peaceful polices is over the era of 
spreading the Socialist front by force of arms has beguit Anyone who does not 
understand this is a petty bourgeois fool Someone else was said to have toasted 
the friendship with Germany and Stalin allegedly replied that the Soviet peo- 
ple should stop praising the German Army (o the skies 



Nazi Soviet Ccllaboratton 


331 


I came to the conclusion that peace could perhaps still be saved if 
the Soviet gosernment could be made to take the diplomatic initiative 
and imolve Hider in negotiations which would rob him, for the 
time being, of all pretexts for military action against the Soviet 
Union I thought that the Soviet government ought to be enlightened 
about the seriousness of the situation The K.remlin had to be per 
suaded by all means to do something to at ert the danger of a German 
attack It so happened that the Soviet ambassador m Berlin, Dekano- 
zov, was in Moscow just then, and I decided that we had to get in 
touch with him and open his eyes about the game that was up To 
lend the action some added weight it would be necessary for Count 
Schulenhurg to participate in it But it was extremely difficult to 
persuade him He said, quite correaly, that the German government 
would try him and me for treason if it leaked out that we ssere about 
to warn the Russians I argued howeter, that too much was at stake, 
and that we should not let any concern about our own existence 
deter us from such a desperate step I finally allayed his misgivings 
and obtained his permission to arrange the secret meeting Dekano- 
lov, invited to come to a confidential meeting at the ambassadors 
residence, agreed to have lunch with us there The only other person 
present was the then chief of the German section in the Foreign Com 

missanat and Molotov s pennanent interpreter, V ^ Pavlov 

Count Schulenhurg and I talked and talked, trying to show the 
Russians how serious the situation had become Again and again 
We urged that his government must by all means get in touch with 
Berlin before Hitler decided to strike Our efforts proved to be a 
complete failure From the very beginning we had told Dekanozov 
that we were acting on our own responsibility and without tlie knowl 
edge of our superiors yet he kept asking us with maddening stub- 
bornness whether w e were speaking at the request of the German 
goiemment, otherwise, he said, he would not be able to transmit 
our statements to his superiors ' You 11 have to speak to the foreign 
minister,’ he kept repeating Obviously he could not imagine that 
we were knowingly and deliberately incurring the greatest danger 
for the purpose of making a last effort to save the peace He must 
ha\e believed that we were acting on Hitlers behalf and that we 
were trying to make the Rreralm take a step that would damage its 
prestige and its concrete interests The more sve talked to him, the 
more it became clear that he had no comprehension of the good will 



332 The Incompatible Allies 

that moved us Perhaps it was the Ic^cal and obvious thing for him 
to thinh we were playing Hitlers game, if that is correct then my 
entire undertaking was not only doomed to failure from the start but 
would actually confirm the Russians in their reasoning If I am 
correct in assuming that Stalin believed Hitler was bluffing, we have 
a plausible explanation as to why he duregarded the many warnings 
he was given The very fact that several sources predicted the German 
invasion for the same date must have confirmed his suspicion that 
the story had been planted by the Germans In any event, Dekanozov 
acted strictly according to Stalin’s directives, who, true enough, 
wanted to appease Germany, but wished to do nothing that might 
betray his anxieties, because that might make Hitler even more in 
transigent in his demands In short, Stalin had to act as if nothing 
was wrong with the German Soviet relationship 

This tendency came out with particular clarity in the treatment 
which the Soviet government at that time gave the British ambassador. 
Sir Stafford Cripps, and in the TASS repiort of June 13, l94l, in which 
the Soviet government denied all rumors about an alleged detenora 
tion of relations between Germany and the Soviet Union, calling them 
a lie and a provocation, and attesting that Germany was unceasingly 
fulfilling the piovisiom of the non aggression pact 

But all efforts were m vain For Hiller was so inebriated by his 
successes and so crazed with the idea that he would now or never 
attain his life’s dreams, that nothing could any longer change his 
resolve to give the Soviet Union the coup de grace 

During the last weeks preceding the German attack against the 
Soviet Union, we lived under a very severe strain of apprehensions 
and gloomy forebodings Since the embassy was no longer in a posi 
tion to perform any useful uork and Berlin quite obviously was no 
more interested in our reporting, I could indulge in reading, as well 
as in prolonged discussions with the ambassador and those of my 
colleagues whom I could trust 

Among the books which I read at that time with special interest 
were the memoirs of the Marquis de Caulaincourt, the famous French 
diplomat, and statesman who served in tht French Pvcsoluttonary and 
Napoleonic wars and was the French Ambassador to Russia from 
1807 to 1811 These memoirs were first published in France between 
1837 and 1840 and republished shortly before the outbreak of the 



NaziSoviet Collaboratton 


335 


Second World War In their mam pan they contained Caulaincourt s 
recital of his conversations vinth Napoleon when he served with the 
French Emperor during the invasion o£ Russia m 1812 and accom 
panted his defeated master on his flight from Russia back to France 
The contents of these conversations fascinated me particularly 
because they gave evidence of the fact that die role which Caulain 
court had played with Napoleon was very similar to that which fate 
had assigned to Count Schulenburg in his relations with Hitler 
Both the Marquis de Caulaincourt and Count Schulenburg v\ere 
ardent advocates of friendly relations between their countries and 
Russia Both had warned against the dangers involved in a war 
against the Eastern colossus and both had failed in their efforts 
to persuade their masters to abstain from attacking Russia 
JnreadingCauIaincourtsreminiscences 1 was especially impressed 
by a passage in which the author described how he tried to bring 
home to Napoleon his opinions on Russia and the necessity to laam 
tain good Franco Russian relations This passage reminded me so 
vividly of the point of view which Schulenburg voiced whenever he 
had an opportunity to speak to Hitler about the Soviet Union that 
I decided to use this coincidence for a practical joke 
One day when the ambassador was visiting me I told him that 1 
had quite recently received a confidential letter from a friend in 
Berlin containing a very interesting report on the contents of the 
ambassadors last conversation with Hitler Count Schulenburg 
voiced surprise since he had reason to believe that the course of the 
above conversation vs as known in Berlin only to a very few persons 
Anyhow I replied here is the text With these words I began to 
read to him a passage from Caulaincourts book which I had carefully 
concealed from the ambassador s view in a letter folder 

While reading I neither omitted nor added a single word to the 
original text I only changed the names of die persons involved sub- 
stituting Hitler for Napoleon and Schulenburg for Caulaincourt 
The ambassador s surprise was genume and great Though this 
seems not to be the original memorandum which I wrote myself after 
the meeting with Hitler he exclaimed nevertheless the text corre 
spends almost verbatim to what I said to Hitler on that occasion 
These were exactly the words whidi I used in talking to him Please 
show me where the paper comes from 



334 The Incompatible Allies 

When I handed the ambassador the hidden volume of Caulain 
court s memoirs, his astonishment had no limits since the coincidence 
was really sinking We both regarded this as a very bad omen ** 

Until immediately before the outbreak of hostilities the German 
Embassy in Moscow was not clearly aware whether Hitler had actually 
and definitely decided to attack the Soviet Union, and what date 
he had fixed for the beginning of operations In order to end the 
uncertainty, the ambassador, in early June, sent one of his trusted 
collaborators to Berlin with the order to pry out all the information 
he could get and report to him orally The man returned to Moscow 
on June 14th with the news that the deasion had been made and 
that the attack, would be made some time around June 22nd Almost 
at the same time the Foreign Ministry ordered the embassy to make 
provisions for the security of the secret archives moreover, the em 
bassy was told that Berlin had no objection to the inconspicuous de- 
parture of women and children All dependents of the embassy i per 
sonnel thereupon made use of the opportunity to leave Moscow, so 
that my wife was the only non official member of the embassy who 
was still m town when the conflict broke out With typical consistency 
the Soviet government until the last moment followed its policy of 
appeasement toward Germany For instance, the Soviet officials gave 
full co-operation in going through all the exit formalities for the 
numerous German citirens leaving the country' and the frontier offi 
cials were even more polite to the German travelers than they had 
ever been 

13 Another example of how strangely history sometinies repeats itself is the 
following tact 

According to Caulaincouri Napoleon while sta>ing in the Kremlin in the 
fall of 1S12 was surprised by the quire unseasonable wann weather which in that 
year pre> ailed in SIoscow at the end of September flis observations on this theme 
culminated so the following slatement My ambassador to Russia provided me 
with quiie false information on the rigors of the Russian climate Why the fall 
weather here in Moscow is even milder than in Fontaineblcaut When some time 
later strong frosts helped the Russians to harass ihe invaders and to destroy the 
retreating French Army Napoleon must have remembered how right Caulain 
court was in warning him against the inclemency of the climate m Russia 

One hundred and twenty nine years later when Hitlers army began to suffer 
from the harshness of the Russian vnnter Hitler exclaimed The reports of my 
embassy in Moscow on the Russian chmate were as false as its other statements 
Otherwise our troops would have been better equipped against these dreadful 
Russian frostsl 

Thus both Napoleon and Hitler used almost identical words in trying to 
blame others for their own failures 



Nazi-Soviet Collaboration 


355 


Meetings bet^\een Count Schulenburg and Molotov which had 
been so frequent for twenty months preceding svere no longer taking 
place Current matters is ere dealt with at lower lei els or were handled 
by Molotov s assistant Vyshinsky But on Saturday June 21st Molo 
tov quite unexpectedly requested the German ambassador to call 
on him in the Kremlm at 9 30 p m It was the next to the last of the 
numerous trips to the Kremlin I made 
Molotov began the conversation by stating that German airplanes 
had for some time and in increasing numbers violated the Sonet 
border In the last two months alone no less than two hundred cases 
of such border Molalions had been noted Hence his government he 
said had asked its ambassador in Berlin to point out to the Gennan 
goiemment that the situation was untenable He asked the German 
ambassador to transmit the same message to his government For 
Molotov the declaration was only a pretext for starting a conversa 
Uoa with Schulenburg about the general character of German 
Russian relations Various indicauons he said gave the impression 
that the German goiemment is dissatu&ed with the Soviet govern 
mem As a matter of fact rumors were going around to the effect 
that a w ar between Germany and the Soviet Union was in preparation 
One thing that i\as nourishing these rumors was the fact that the 
German side had m no w ay reacted to the TASS news item of June 
ISth indeed it had not even been published in Germany The Soviet 
government he continued did not know how to explain this dis 
satisfaction If it was caused by the Yugoslav quesuon he believed 
to have resolved it satisfactorily by his previous explanations hence 
he would be grateful if the ambassador could enlighten him about 
the reasons that had caused the present state of affairs 

Count Schulenburg who was an honest and open man was put 
into an unhappy and embarrassing situation by the question He 
could only reply that he had no information whatsoever that might 
throw a light on the matter But Molotov was not satisfied and he 
continued to wonder whether there was not something to the rumors 
He had received news he said that not only all German business 
people had departed from the Soviet Union but that the dependent 
women and children of the embassy too had left the country The 
ambassador could not conceal the embarrassnient into which Molo- 
tov s remark had placed him He tried to justify the departures by 
saying that they were only the customary vacation trips to Germany 



336 The Incompatible Allies 

which were a natural consequence of the rigors of the Moscow 
climate He also alluded to the fact that not all women had left 
Moscow since my wife was still m town Thereupon Molotov gave up 
his efforts with a resigned shrug of his shoulders At the moment none 
of us knew that withm another six hours we would stand before a 
fait accompli 

On June 22nd at three o clock m the morning a telegram was re 
ceived from Berlin in which the ambassador was ordered to go to 
Molotov at once and give him the following declaration Soviet 
troop concentrations near the German border have reached dimen 
sions which the German government feels it cannot tolerate It has 
therefore decided to take appropriate countermeasures The tele 
gram concluded with the order to let no further discussions with 
Molotov develop 

Shortly after four in the morning we were once more entering the 
Kremlin where Molotov received us at once He wore a tired and 
worn out expression After the ambassador delivered his message 
there were several seconds of deep silence Moloiov was visibly Strug 
gling with deep inner excitement Then he asked Is this supposed 
to be a declaration of war? The ambassador reacted in silence with 
a gesture characteristic of him that of drawing up his shoulders and 
making a helpless motion with his arms Then Molotov said with 
slightly raised voice that the message he had just been given could 
not of course mean anything but a declaration of war since German 
troops had already crossed the Soviet border and Soviet cities like 
Odessa Kiev and Minsk had been bombarded by German airplanes 
for an hour and a half And then Molotov gave free reign to his in 
dignation He called the German action a breach of confidence un 
precedented in history Germany without any reason had attacked a 
country with which it had concluded a pact of non aggression and 
friendship The reason given by Germany was an empty pretext 
since It was sheer nonsense to speak of Soviet troop concentrations at 
the German border If any Soviet troops were there it was for the 
purpose of the usual summer maneuvers If the German government 
ehoughc ic rtecessaty ca take oSense then a note to the Soi /ef goi’ern 
ment would have sufficed to cause it to withdraw its troops Instead 
the German government was unleashing a war with all its conse 
quences Surely we have not deserved that With these words 
Molotov closed his declaration 



Nazi Soviet Collaboration 


337 


The ambassador replied that he could add nothing to uhat he 
had just said at the order of his go\ernraent He only svished to add 
the request that the members of the embassy be alloised to leave the 
Soviet Union in conformity with the rules of international law 
Molotov tersely replied that the German Embassy would be treated 
strictly on the basis of reciprocity With this we took leave of him 
in silence, but vsith the customary handshake 
As e drove out of the Kremlin, VrC met a number of cars in which 
high ranking generals could be recognized One proof that the Ger 
man attack in the early morning of June 22nd came as a complete 
surprise was the fact, established later, that on that Sunday morning 
a number of leading military personalities were not available at 
once because they uere spending the week end outside Moscow in 
their dachas 

In the evening of June 22nd the NKVD requested all members 
of the German Embassy to leave their private residences and to 
assemble in the embassy chancellery Since our party contained well 
over a hundred persons the building was far too small for us I had 
to negotiate for a very long time with the Soviet officials in charge 
until some of us were permitted to move to another budding belong 
ing to the embassy On June 24ih we were all taken to Kostroma*on 
Volga where v\e were billeted in a workers rest home for five days 
Then we were taken clear across Russia to Lcninakan, near the Ar 
menian Turkish border, and kept there while the exact procedure 
for the exchange of personnel was being worked out by the protecting 
powers and Turkey, the country of transit 

Before our detention I had twelve or fourteen hours during which 
I still had occasion to talk with a few Russians In these conversations 
my partners unanimously expressed their conviction that the Soviet 
government must have provoked the German action by some gross 
mistake They could not otherwise explain the German attack after 
the Soviet government had asserted to the last moment that the 
relauon between Germany and the Soviet Union continued to be 
friendly, and that Germany was correctly fulfilling all its treaty ob 
ligations Thus the population was not at first ready to pm the blame 
for the war on the Germans This was also shown during the eight day 
trip to Lenmakan The stations where our transport stopped were 
crovsded with people The windows of the tram were open, because of 
the summer temperature, so that there could be no doubt as to the 



338 The Incompatible Allies 

identity of the passengers None the less, during the whole trip I 
heard not a single unfriendly word and saw not a single unfriendly 
gesture The people who looked at us seemed perturbed, puzzled, 
and embarrassed, as if they were searching in vain for an answer to 
the question of who really was to blanu for the catastrophe The 
lack of the slightest psychological preparation of the Russian people 
for the possibility of a war with Germany was one of the reasons for 
the lack of fighting spirit shown by the Red Array and the people 
in the first stage of the war 

I never worried about the treatment which the Soviet government 
would give the German Embassy, for 1 knew that about three tunes 
as many Soviet citizens were in Germany at that time as there were 
Germans m the Soviet Union Among the Soviet citizens were many 
Soviet engineers and other technical experts ivho were in Germany 
as receiving officers and the Soviet government could not be anything 
but very eager to have them return to the Soviet Union 

The trip from Kostroma to Lenmakan was much less tinng than 
the subsequent stay at the border, where the train stood in the burning 
sun for seven days and the sanitary conditions were so bad that the 
majority of the passengers were attacked by intestinal infections 
Meanwhile, the Soviet citizens from Germany traveled through Bui 
garia and arrived at the other end of Turkey at Svilengrad 'When 
this group crossed into Turkey, on July 13, 1941, our transport was 
permitted lo leave the Soviet Union 

After our return to Germany I became a member of a small group 
of experts on Russia headed by the former ambassador, the so-called 
Russland Gremtum, which was made part of von Ribbentrops im 
mediate advisory staff It must be realued that the Moscow negotia 
tions of 1939 had been the high point of von Ribbentrop s careen 
and since I, as a competent interpreter, had done my share to make 
the meetings a success my peisoa became an integral part of the 
foreign ministers Moscow meniories •* Thus having me in his en 
tourage offered him the opportunity to recapture something of his 

Hitler loo seemed to have been impressed svitb my services during Molotov s 
stay in Berlin Late in 19tS von Ribbentrop took me with him to the railroad 
siaiion where Mussoliiii was lo arrive liaving been liberated flora captivity 
Before the tram rolled m Hitler stnuted in front of the assembled dignitaries 
and suddenly stopped to speak b> me Well Hilger you don t have tnueb 
of a chance to use your Russian these days do you? he said Yes 1 replied 
us a great pity Hitler gave roe a startled glance and turned away 



Na'iSovtel Collaboration 


339 


moments of glory Besides, he neser ceased dreaming about another 
chance to talk Vrith Stalin And being basically ignorant and hardly 
capable of independent thought, he constantly surrounded himself 
Hath experts and idea men whose brains he could pick whenever it 
Suited hu whim He seemed to think that I would be indispensable 
for him should any future dealings with the Soviet government ma 
tenalize In the meantime he kept asking me the most inconsequen 
tial and disconnected questions about Russia and her rulers showing 
me by this that he often thought about them 
Working m the Russland Gramium, 1 spent the war years in Berlin 
u-atching svith dismay and horror the muddle of German occupation 
policies m the conquered territories of the East The conflict of poll 
cies the bitter struggles o\er jurisdiction fought by the highest lead 
en around Hitler, and the Fuhrers oivn ruthless policy of exploita 
don destruction and colonization are too long and complicated a 
story for this book Suffice it to say that German rule in the occupied 
territories succeeded m a very short ume in alienating a population 
many of whom had greeted Hitler s armies as liberators from Soviet 
tenor 

I had never believed that Russia could be defeated hence I had 
always considered a war a disaster for Germany Now my apprehen 
sions turned into more concrete visions of utter defeat and destruc 
tion owing to our own mistakes It was dangerous to have such 
thoughts it was even more dangerous to express them On January 
30 1942 I handed the foreign minister a memorandum in which I 
maintained that German occupation policies and the treatment of 
Soviet prisoners of w ar must be chang^ fundamentally if disastrous 
results were to be avoided Von Ribbentrop read it and completely 
lost his temper *\Vhat do you think you are doing? he screamed at 
If the Fuhrer finds out what you wrote m this memorandum 
he 11 have you shot at once And rightly so You should have gone to 
a concentration camp long ago anyway Count Schulenburg who 
wtnessed the outburst in silence later apologized to me What could 
I have done? he said If I bad interfered he would have gone even 
madder and it would not have done any good at all 
As the Allied and Soviet armies closed in on Germany von Ribben 

Many Ukrainians even those who bad openly i elcotned the German Array 
'^ere now saying if we are to be governed by scoundrels then we prefer our 
whose language we understand at least 



S40 The Incompatible Allies 

irop’s moves and thoughts betrayed greater and greater hopelessness 
As late as March. 1945, he seriously suggested that I go to Stockholm 
and try to get m touch with the Soviet Mission there in order to sound 
them out about a possible separate peat* It was with great difficulty 
that I talked him out o£ his ivild sdieme Early m April he called 
me to his bedside one day "Hilger,"’ he said, "I want to ask you 
something, and I want you to be perfectly honest with me in answer- 
ing Do you think Stalin will ever be ready to negotiate with us 
again? ’ 

“Herr Reichsminister," I replied, “I don't know whether you really 
want me to answer you, because if I were to tell you what I honestly 
think, you won't like the answer at all As a matter of fact, you might 
become quite upset" He brushed my reply aside with some im 
patience 

“I have always iv-anted you to be perfectly frank with me," he 
sputtered in an attempted show of righteous indignation 
‘ AU right, ' I said, since you insist, here is my reply As long as 
Germany is ruled by the present government, there is not the slightest 
chance that 5talin will even think of negotiating with it again " 

My remarks seemed more than the foreign minister was ready to 
swallow His face flushed, his eyes popped, and he seemed to choke 
on the words he wanted to say At that moment his wife stuck her head 
in at the door “Get up, Joachim, ' she called, and down to the 
shelter with you Mass air attack coming over Berlin ' 

That was the last I ever saw of von Ribbentrop A few days later, 
on April 14th, the remainder of the Foreign Office staff still in Berlin 
was evacuated to a place near Salzburg, which it took us three days 
to reach There we spent another two and a half weeks in enforced 
idleness, most of the time following the collapse of Germany over the 
radio On May 5, 1945, units of the United States Army reached our 
place The inevitable end had become living reality for me 



XI CONCLUSION 


Somewhere along the Georgian Military Highway, which begins in 
the European part of Russia, crosses the high mountains of the Cau 
casus, and leads into Transcaucasia, there is a place where a huge 
rock juts out of the mighty mountain range along the road and hangs 
over the highway in such a threatening manner that it gives the 
impression that it may tumble down at any moment and bury the 
hapless passerby beneath its weight For that reason the population 
has given the rock the name “Pronest, Gospodi'” which, translated 
freely, means. “Good Lord, please let me get out from under this 
thingl ’ 

Today the rock i! still in the same position in which it was one 
hundred and fidy years ago, svhen die uarist government began con 
structing the road It is propped up and made safe by artificial sup* 
ports, but It has never been blasted away 

I have traveled down the Georgian H ighway quite a few times, an 
whenever I passed by the rock 1 too would look at it with the same 
sense of apprehension And every time the feeling of dread came 
over me, I was reminded of the very similar anxiety which was part 
of the traditional attitude of the Gernian people toward its great 
neighbor to the east Even at earlier times, when the very best relation 
ship prevailed between the two countries, and when no insupera e 
ideological conflict made their collaborauon difficult, even then Ger 
many was never free from the dread of the colossus in the east, whose 
impenetrable political plans and intentions she always suspecte 

The Germany of William 3l could have found the proper political 
means by which to secure herself against Russian surprise moves 
Instead, she chose war, and both states were ruined by it 

After the War of 1914-1918. a German republic and a Communist 
Russia found each other under completely different arcumstances 

Rapallo, the "agreement between a blind man and a ame man, 



342 The Incompatible Allies 

a natural solution which corresponded to the vital interests of both 
powers without being directed against third states, or without harm 
mg them 

In the two decades following Rapallo, it was shown that collabora 
tion with the Soviet Union was a painful job, full of mishaps and 
disappointments, but a paying proposition nevertheless, which rested 
on the principle, Do ut des Neither of the two states felt itself to be 
stronger than the other, neither therefore dared force its will upon 
the other And so German Soviet relations as they developed in the 
years from 1922 to 1941, gave proof that a bourgeois state can maintain 
relations with the Soviet Union which are useful and not immediately 
dangerous as long as it is at least as strong or at most as weak., as the 
Soviet Union 

Once, however, the equilibrium of forces is disturbed or shifted 
through domestic or international developments the other partner 
Will constantly be aware that he is helplessly exposed to the pressure 
and blackmail methods of Soviet foreign policy The only thing that 
can save a weak state in thu situation — apart from its geographical 
position — IS an alliance with stronger states which are willing and 
able to resist the expansionist aspirations, impenalistic or ideo- 
logical. of the Soviet Union The only alternative is the course taken 
by the satellites whose late has been sealed, for a long time if not 
forever by their alliance with the USSR 

World \Var II has wrought fundamental changes in the power 
pattern of Europe Foremost among them are the destruction of Hit 
lers Greater Germany and the emergence of the Soviet Union as 
the second greatest power in the world With these changes the 
possibilities open to Germany at the lime of Rapallo have disap 
peared and only two alternatives are open to her She can either 
seek security against the Soviet threat by an alliance with the Western 
powers or else she can ally herself with tiie Soviet Union But in the 
event of the latter, Western Germany, and probably the rest of 
Europe, would doubtless share the fate of the East European satel 
htes 



INDEX 


AEG, 221 
ARA 41 

ARCOS.raid on. 215 
D'Abernon, Lord, 147 148, 151 
Afghanistan. 57 
All Gooli Khan, Pnncc, 57 
Andreyev. 3. 4. 5. 6. 8 
Anti Germaa propaganda campaign. 
309 310 

Arbitration agreement ol 25 January. 
1929,235 236 

Arbitration committee to settle mutual 
griesanca 233 235 

Article 116 of Vemilles Treaty, 75. 76, 
77. 78 

Anhanov. 47 

Asiatic nauonalum, Soviet atuttwe 
toward, 58n 
Auhagcn, Otto, 163 
Axelrod. 30 


Badstieber. 218, 220 

Balkan countries, 320 

Baltic States, 3l8 

Baltrushaitia, Jurgis K , 57 

Bashkin 219,246 

Bauer, Colonel Max, 191 

Baum, German press attache, 267 

Behrendt, Minutenaldirektor, 650,7 . 

74 

Eerens 46 

Benya. 282. 302. 514 

Bolin,. T.sMM S„ ScB,0«. PmI 
“Beisol ^ 194 
Bessarabia 318 
Blomberg Wemervon,207 

Blu echer. Marshal, 229 
Blum, Leon, 113 
Blumkui. 3 6, 8, 9 


Bockclberg, General von, 256 

Bolshevik intellectuals 114 
Bonch Bruyevich, 7 
Borenhardt 109 
Bratnian Brodovsky, 141. 2-3 
Breathing space,’ theory of the, 
103 

Bredenko. 269 
Brest Liiovsk, 2 6, 103 
Brockdorn Rantiau, Ulnch Count, 24, 
93 129 150 _ 

On Rapalle 76 80,91 52 
Personal background and character, 
85 90 96 

At Versailles 89 ^ 

Appointment as ambassador, 90 
Enmity of Seeckt, 90 92 
Friendship with Chichenn 94 
Arrival in Moscow. 97 
Relationship with Hilger, 97 
On influence of Comintern 108 
On events of 1925. 124 
On Germany and Entente powen, 
134 155 

On Loomo Pact, 136 
Wishes to resign 137 
Dunng Kindcitnann and IVolscht 
mal 140 144 
On Treaty of Berlin 150 
Attitude toward Hetbette, 153 
Reacuon to world wide recognition 
nven USSR 153 

AUnned by Trotiky s remarks about 
spreading communism, 137 

On decoration of Max Holz 157 

Blames Stresemann for softness, 157 
Intervenes for Archbishop Cepljak, 


Rumored to be at odds with 
Schubert, 187 


343 



344 

Brockdord Rantiau (continued) 

Complains about excessive autonomy 
of the miliury, 200 201 
Against von Seeckl s traveling to 
USSR, 206 

Attitude to Trotzky, 213 
Attempts to silence Scheffer. 214 
Reaction to Shakhty trial 220 221 
Last illness, 222 

Shocked by acquittal of Chervonets 
forgers 231 

Brockdorff Ranizau era See ' Rapallo 

■ Brothers in Need ' Committee 256 
Brunmg Heinrich, 250 251, 234 
Budberg, Baron 13 
Budenny. S , 157 

Bukharin, Nikolai, 106, 210. 259, 26S 

Bukovina, SIS 319 

Bulgaria 325 

Bulltit, Wiliam C . 301 

Bulovv, Bernhard von, 250. 260, 265 

(le Caulaincourt, Marquis. 332 334 
Central Revolutionary Cerman Work 
en and Soldiers' Council. 20, 31. 
32 ff 

Cheka, 3 6, 40 Seg dfso GPU, NKVD. 
MVD 

“Cheka itial," 140 141 
Chervonets forgers, 230 231 
Chiacura, 171 

Chicherin Georgi Vasilyevich, 2, 7, 33, 
56 158 

Opinion of England, 58 
At Genoa Conference 77 78 
Friendship with Brockdorff Rantzau. 
94 

Personal history 98 101 
Relations with Litvinov, 110 
On Rapallo 111 

Interest in Near East and Far East, 112 
On the Ruhr adventure, 121 
Events of 1923, 124, 125 
On Germany and Entente powers, 
134 135 

LfSwivs v& vtvzng C,minrrr) "Siwify 
West. 135 

On Kindermann and Wolscht, 140 
On Hilger. 143 144 
Suggests treaty of neutrality, 145 
Signs treaty with Turkey, 146 


Index 

Give! Rantzau and Hilger access to 
CPU dossiers, 149 

Relations with GeTman Foreign Min- 
istry. 152 

Proposes continental bloc, 153 
Lunches with von Seeckt, 187 188 
Warns against Trotzky, 213 
Informs Rantzau about the impend- 
ing Shakhty trial, 217 
Embarrassed by Shakhty trial, 220 
Worries over seeming deterioration of 
relations. 230 

Churchill, Winston S , 13f> 

Civil War, 18 
Clcmcnceau, Georges, 77 
“Collegiate responsibility,“ 101 
Communist International, 104, 155 15S. 

Third, 106 107 
Communist Party Congresses 
Ilth, 105 
4(h. 106 
I5lh. 106 

6ih, no 

Communists, attitude toward Social 
DemocTais, 118, attitude coward 
right wingpaTiia, 119 See oho Left 
Opposition, Bolshevik IntelleecuaU 
Concessions, iincenty of, 169 171, ef 
fered by USSR, 166 ff 
Consular agents, arrest of, 148 149 
Cnspien, 117 

Cultural interchange 150 ISl 
CUDO, Wilhelm, 121, 201 
Curtius.Dr Julius, 232, 234, 250 

Dan, F€dor 60 
Diiumig, 117 
Davtian, 30 
Dawes Plan. 126 
Dekanozov, 322, 331 332 
Depression, 216 217 
Derulufl, 178 
Derulra, 177 

Dllksui, Herbert von, 135, 205, 223 224, 
251 

Endorses Trotrky's request for refuge 
TO ternisfiry , “i VI 

Moscow's favorite candidate to suc- 
ceed Brockdorff Rantzau, 223 
Fust speech as ambassador. 226 227 
Recommends conciliatory gestures, 
232 



Index 


Advocates extension of credits to 
USSR 2S8 240 
Attempt on his life 247 248 
On prospect of fnendly relations after 
Hitler s accession 256 
Transferred from Moscow 260 
Dittmann 117 
Doletsky 255 
Drusag 178 
Dumping 237 

Drcrrhinsky Felix 3 8 120 

Ebert Friedrich 69 90 
Economic treaty of October 1925 155 
156 168 

Eden Anthony 269 
Eichhom Field Manhal Hermann von 
18 

Eighth All Russian Congress of Soviets 
60 62 

England commeraal agreetnent with 
?5rSR 67 68 
£mer Pasha 192 193 
Ethiopian «aT 277 
Exeelstor affair 135 
Extra temtorial privileges 179 182 

Finland 319 

Fischer Major (later Colonel) 193 200 
209 206 

Five Year Plan 240 
Francis Poncet Andrd 257 
Fretk<nps 191 192 
Frick Edouard A 41 

GEFU 194 

GPU See also Cheka NKVD 
Dossier on Hilger 149 
Espionage on foreign missions 16Z 
Power over Soviet foreign aSairs 164 
On concess ons 170 
German Communut Party See RPD 
German Folk Party 59 
German industrialists visit to USSR 
211 242 
Germ any 

Revolution foreign policy of 20 
Communist revolts 66 
Germany and England 68 
Offensive of 1918 103 
October Revolution failure of 123 
Attitude toward England 130 


345 


Willingness to join League of Na 
tions 131 

Entry into League 134 
Formal application of admission to 
League of >311005 136 
Suspicions against Moscow 152 
Press 159 160 
Cessler Otto 203 204 
Conng Hermann 255 258 322 
Cram agreement" 184 
Gromyko Andrei 29'* 

Cnishevsky Vice Commissar 269 
Gukovsky Commissar 28 30 


Haase Hugo 20 83 
Hamburg American Line 177 
Hamburg uprising 123 
Hamman A 171 
Hasse General 200 
Hauschild Consul General 18 
Kecking Carl 17n 
Helffetich kail 9 10 
Hencke 223 
Henmng Major 59 
Herbetie Jean 153 
Hess Rudolf 522 
Hewel Walter 295 296 300 
llilferding Rudolf 205 
Himmetsbach Corporation 174 
Hindenburg Paul von 156 137 I89n , 
251 

Hintze Admiral Paul von lOn 85 
Hiller Adolf 

Reemves khinchuk Za5 
Agrees to receive krestinsky 260 
Discussion with Nadolny 266 
Reaction to kandelakis overtures 270 
Reaction to Litvinovs dismissal 
293ff „ _ 

Hears Hilger s report on USSR 29 j 

29’ 

Commenu on Hilger s report 297 
Reaction to Molotovs suggestion of a 
political settlement 297 
Ideas about the Naa Soviet pact 
307 308 

Reveals his plans against USSR 514 


315 

Crowing megalomania 320 

Talks with Molotov 323 324 
Sees von der Schulenburg, April, 
1941 328 



346 


In dex 


Hoesch, Leopold, 135 
Hoetzsch, Professor, 119,211 
Holz, Max. 157 
Hoover, Herbert, 4I 
Hoitelet, Richard C, 113 
Hugenberg, Alfred, 160, 257 

Industrial party. 221 222 
Industrialization of Russia, 225 227 

JunVers aircraft faciory, 193 

KPD 155 156 

Kaganovich, Laiar, 268 302 
Kalinm, Mikhail, 74, 275 
Kamenev, Lev B , 44 122, 158 
KandelaJ. 1 , 269 270, 284 
Karakhan. Lev, 7. 58, 70, 82. 120. 195. 
223 

Kattel, Cammissar, 269 
Kaian tank school, 195 
Keitel, Colonel General Wilhelm, 295 
Khinchuk, 255 

Kindermann Wolscht trial, 221 
Kuhkin, Dr . 40 
Koraen, 1J7 

Kopp Viktor, 25, 66. 70, 71. 140. 195 
Kostiing, Emit. 195n , 207, 295. 298. 
312 

Kousseviczky, Sergei, 30 
Krasin, Leonid, 170, 171, 182 
Krebs, Colonel, 327 329 
Krestinsky, Nikolai N , 53, 70. 76. 150, 
223, 276 

Appointment as Soviet representative 
in Berlin, 70 74, 84 
Relation with German Foreign Mm 
istry, 152 

Discusses grievances with von Schu- 
bert, 233 

At trial of Stem and Vasilyev, 249 
On Soviet desire to keep on good 
terms with Hitler Germany, 256 
Avoids meeting Hitler, 261 
Urges the conclusion of mutual as- 
sistance pact for Eastern Europe, 
278 

Knipp Corporation, 171 172, 207 208 
Krylenko, V N, 142, 218, 220, 248 249 
Kuibyshev, 226 
Kun. B41a. 42, 43 
Kursky, Commissar, 120 


Kuskova, Katanna D , 40 

League of Nations, 151. 136. 146. 147, 
275 

League of Nations Covenant, Article 16, 
133. 138, 147 148 
Left opposition, 211, 212 
Left Socialist Revolutionary Party, 2. 
«. 8, 17 

Lena Goldfields Co, 171 
Lenin. Nikolai. 2, 6. 7. 61 63, 71. 77 
On strengthening the Soviet State, 
103 

Theory of 'breathing space," 105 
On transitional period, 105 
Treated by German physicians, I5I 
On the NEP. 209 

On Germany's tendency to ally it- 
self With USSR. 259 
Lepke, art dealer, 230 
Liebknecht, Kail. 115 
Lieih Thomsen, Colonel von der, 197 
Lipetsk fiying school. 196 
Lithuania. 154, 319. 325 
Litvinov, Maxim. 58. 93, 158, 161. 276 
Antagonism of Chicheriii, 110 
On Rapallo, 111 
Interest in West. 112 
Disagreement with government poll 
cies. 112 113 
Skoblevsky trial, 141 
Requests Ttotiky be admitted to 
Germany, 217 

Shocked by acquittal of Chervonets 
forgers, 231 

Complains about anti Soviet attitude 
in Germany, 232 

Od Soviet desire to keep on good 
terms with Hitler Germany, 256 
Speech before Central Executive 
Committee, 1933, 264 
Agrees to ease hostile press campaign, 
288 289 

Dismissal. 290. 295 
Duues after 1939. 292 
Litvinov era, 258 263, 276 278. 305 306 
Uoyd George, David, 77 
Locarno, 126 136. 146 
London Conference. 126 
London economic conference, 257 
London UlDmatum, 67 
Lozovsky, 1 17 



Index 


LunarchatsVy, A. V , 9 
Luxemburg Rosa, 116 


lifain Concessions Committee, 167 169 
Maisky, Ivan, 292 
Malenkov, 302 

Maltzan, Baron Ago von, 9, 65, 68, 74, 
76, 77, 223, 228 

Mcncheiter Cuardtan, 188, 199 
Man)ch concession, 172 
Manzom, Gaetano, 153 
Martynov, Colonel, 13 
Marx, Wilhelm, 203 
May Day demonstration 1929. 228 
Mayer, techniaan, 218 220 
Afein Kampl 250, 252, 265, 267. 271 
Afenshevit party, 60, 61, 62 
Merekalov, Ambassador, 285 
Merkulov, Vice Commissar, 322 
Mikoyan Commissar. 285 287, 297, 
293 302. 316, 317. 321 
Mirbach KarH, Count. 1 6 
Mohammed Vah Khan. 57 
‘Mologales" concession. 174 177 
Molotov. V M. 1. 98. Chap X 
At Klara Zetkins funeral 255 
On Soviet desire to keep on good 
temu with Hitler Germany. 256 
On Nazi race theory, 263 
Reveals credit negotiations, 284 
Character, 290 292 
On Hitler. 291 

Demands a political basis for eco- 
nomic agreements 297 
Behavior toward Stalin, 301 302 
On German invasion of Holland 
and Belgium, 318 
Visit m Berlin, 321 324 
Memorandum of November 25, 1940, 
824 325 

Last attempts to negotiate with 
Germany 333 336 

Last talk with Schulenburg and Hit 
ler, 336 337 
Mossdorf Otto. 243 
Most favored nation clauses, 182 18S 
Muller, August. 70 84 
Muller, Hermann 205 
Mueller, Lieutenant, 4, 5 

NEP See New Economic Policy 


347 

NKVD. 281, 292 293 See also Cheka. 
GPU. Zhigunov 

Nadolny, Rudolf. 261 267, 273. 274 
National Socialism, 251 253. 271 273 
Neurath Konstantin von, 255, 257, 265, 
266, 270 

New Economic Policy, 39, 62 65, 169 
171 

Ntedermay er. Oskar Ritter von. 194 
197 

Norway 315 316 

Obcrlander. Professor 267 268 
'Operation Barbarossa 324 
Ordshonikidze, Grigori konstantino 
vich 241 

Orlov forgery organization, 160 

‘ Ostpakt, 278 

Otto, engineer, 218 220 

Patladui Secretary, 269 
Papen Franz von 250 251, 257 
Patek Staniilaw 153 
Pavlov, V N , 531 
Persia. 57 
Petrov 124 215 
Pevmer 269 
Pomcari Raymond 122 
Poland. 59 154 155 311 313 
Police raid on Soviet trade delegauon, 
179 182 

Policy oI fulfillment, 128 
Popular front 258 
Pre war debu, 78 238 
Press relations severance of, 258 
Prisoners exchange. 22, 23. 25, Chap 
U 

Prokopovich, Sergei N 40 
^TQTitpaTtia See Industrial party 
Provisional agreement of 1921, 67, 
166 168 

Purges 72. 292 293 
Pyatakov agreement, 242 


Quisling Vidkun 42 


lUdel, K,tl. 71 75, 77, 120, 155 156 

On possible German Allied deal, 
1918. I9n 

On transitional period. 105 
“Hands oS Germany." 121 



348 


Index 


Radek, Karl (continued) 

Solution to keep France out of Cer* 
many, 122 

Pucusses events of 1S23, 124 
Re Hilger accusations, I4S 
Helps in settlement of dispute over 
police raid, 181 
In Moabit jail, 188-191 
On Hitler's accession to power, 232 
Nostalgia about fonner German- 
Soviet friendship, 267 
Meeting with Obeiiander, 267 269 
Advocates mutual assistance pact 
for Eastern Europe, 278 
Radowitz, von, 82, 97 
Rakovsky Christian G, 38. recalled 
from Pans, 216 
Ramzin, Professor, 221 
lUntzau See Brockdorff Ranuau 
Rapallo, 116, era of, 130 ff. league 
against the League, 131. relation- 
ship at low ebb, 135 
Rathenau, Walihet. 10. 75, 76. 80, 81, 
93 

Rautner, Hans von, 240 
Red Terror, 17, SO 
Reibnicz, Baron Eugen von, 191 
Reich Central Office for Nftlitary and 
Civilian Prisoners 23 
Reich Default Guarantees, 186 
Reichstag, discusses military colUbora- 
lion, 204 205, fire trial, 258 
Reichswehr collaboration with Red 
Army terminates 257 
Keissner, Lanssa, 114 
Revolving credit, 239 
Rhine Elbe Union, 174 
Ribbentrop, Joachim von, 293 294, 
296. 309 

Recalls Schnurre, 286 
Reaction to Molotov’s suggestion of 
a political settlement 297 
Negotiating wuh Stalin, 303 
Secemd visit to Moscow, 313 
Letter to Stalin of October 3. 1940, 
321 

'Z'itix.-i -Aft vps?i’i tA *iiie 

pact. 333 340 
Rieiler, Dr , 4, 5 
Ritter, Karl, 239 
Rohm, Ernst. 272 

Romania, German troops sent to, 320 


Rosen, Dr. Friedrich, 69, 74 
Rosenberg. Alfred. 253 
Rosengotz, Arkady Pavlovich, 194, 201, 
237 

Rothstein, 292 
"Ruhr adventure." 121 
"Rusgertorg, ’ 172 173 
Russia See USSR 

"Russian Committee of the German 
Economy," 167 
RitssUnd Gremium, 338 
“Rusiransit." 178 
Rykov, 522 


Schacht, Hialmar. 269 270, 284 
Scheffer, Paul. 160 161. 223, reports 
on the Stalin Troczky controversy, 
213 214 

Scheidemann, Philipp, 203 
Scfttckiolsgememsehaft, 111, 131 
Schleicher, Kurt von, 251, 272 
Schlesinger, Moritz, 24, 65, 69, 76, 223. 
239. 241. 243 

Schnurre, Pr Karl, 285 286. S89, 295, 
297, 298 

Schubert, von. 128, 133. 157, 233 
Schule, German correspondent. 830 
Schulenburg, Fnedneh Werner, Count 
von dtr, 1. 275, 293, 297, Chap X 
Suggests easing of hostile press cam- 
paign in Germany and Russia. 
288 289 

Suggests caution in working for a 
rapprochement, 299 
On Nazi Soviet pact. SOS 309 
Audionte with Hiller, Apiil, 1941, 
328 

And Hilger warn Soviet Government 
of Hitler's intentions, 331 332 
Mu role similar to that of Caulain 
court. 333 334 

Last talk with Molotov, 336 337 
Seeckt. Hans von. 92. 93, 191 592, 205- 
206 

Enmity with Brockdorff Rantzau, 90 
V-xrinkna wvAi CAritt/tr.-j-ri, ’,47 '584 
Answer to Rantzau "pro memoria,'' 
199 

Sekkia Bey, 57 

Shakbty trial, 98, 217 222. 255 
Shapostinikov. Boris, 301 



Index 


Sheioinan, Aaron, 2S5 
Simons, Dr , 59, 66, 82 
Skobclcv, Manei, 167 
Skoblevsky, Petr Aleksandrovich. 121, 

140 

Skoropadsky, Hetman, 38 
Skosyrcv, 285 

■Soaalism in one country,” 106, 124 
Socialist eorapeution extended to Get 
man workers, 229 
SoU, Wilhelm, 20 

Sondergruppe R See ‘‘Special group 

R 

Soviet duplicity, 121 
Soviet suspiaons against Berlin, 152 
Spartacus uprising 116 
“Special group R, 193, 199 
Stalin, Joseph, 72, 156 

‘Socialism in ore country* 106 
Reaction to world depression, 106 
107 

On German Revolution," 125 
Stalin Trouky feud, 124 
His program m the twenties. 211 
212 

Fight against Trottky 213 
Initiates the Five Year Plan 214 
At Klata Zetkin's funeral, 255 
Reaction to Munich, 289 
Speech at XVIIIth Party Congress. 
289 

Negotiating with Ribbentrop, 800 
304 

On England, 304 
On Hitler, 304 
On Japan, 305 
On USA, 305 

Motivation for Nazi Soviet pact, 305' 
307 

His full authority to make decisions, 
310 

Hesitates to march into Poland, 511 

312 

At banquet given for Ribbentrop, 

313 314 

Expert knowledge of technical de- 
tails. 317 

Over-estimates Maginot Line, Sift 
Reply to Ribbentrop s letter of Oc 
tober 3. 1940, 521 

Pubhcly demonstrates Gennan 
Soviet friendship. 327 


349 

Assumes chairmanship m Soviet 
cabinet, 329 

Unaware of Hitler's intentions, 330 
At Red Army banquet. May, 1941, 
330 

Stem, Boris 141, 145. 292 
On Shakhty trial 220 
Complains about German press, 280 
Complains about anti Soviet aiti 
tude 232 

Stem, chief of German Division in 
NKVD, 256 

Stem Yuda Mirovovich 248 249 
Stolzenberg, Dr Hugo, 194 
Stresemann Gustav. 121. 129, 145, 150. 
157 183 205 207 
Problem of the League 133 135 
Policy of fulfillment, 137 133 
Soviet comments on occasion of his 
death 232 

SlOcklen Deputy 24 59 
Subvenive activities 8 
Sunts, Ambassador, 261, 276 
Sverdlow, Jacob, 6 

Tevosyan, 301 

Third International See Communist 
iDiemaiional 

Trade agreement of 1938, 239 
Trade agreement of February 11, 1940, 
316 317 

Trade treaty of January 10, 1941, 325 
Tiansiiional period 105 
Treaty of Berlin 
Renewal 251 
Renewal latiBed 255 
Re-cxamined 298 

Trotzky Leon 2 45, 46, 47, 98. 104, 
120 156 211 212 

Admits preparations for Gennan 
Revolution 124 
Tnp to Germany. 151 
Fight against Stalin 213 
Expelled from USSR 217 
Tsartst debts See Pre war debts 
Tschunke Major 193 200 
TuVJiachevsky Mikhail, 52, 251, re 
grets end of military collaboration, 
270 271 

Turkey. 57. treaty with USSR of 1925, 

146 

Twardovsky, FnU von, 247, 270 



350 


Index 


USSR 

Motives behind foreign policy, J02 
Tightening of Iron Curtain, 114 
Attitude toward England, 130 
On Germany vs Entente powers, 134 
Reaction to Locarno pact, 136 
Attempt at renewal of Rapallo, 138 
Uborevich, General, 207 
Unshhkht, Vice Commissar, 206 207 
Utitsky. 17 

Varga, Eugene, 44n 
Vasilenko, chaimtao of Kiev Regional 
Executive Committee, 269 
Vasilyev, 248 

Versailles Treaty, 19 See alto Ariicle 
116 of Venailles Treaty 
"Vienna arbitration," 320 
Vienna uprising ol 1927, 216 
Voikov, Ambassador, 154. 21S 
Volodarsky. 17 
Vologda Province, 10 16 
Voroshilov, K E , 157, 271. 312 SIS 
Speech of November 12, 1927. 157 
May Day speech, 1929. 228 
At dinner for General von Bodiel 
berg, 256 

Stalin's behavioe with, 302 
yaruarti, 188, 204 


Vyshinsky, Andrei Yannuarievich, 98. 
335. at Shakhty tnal, 219 220 

\VIKO. 194 

Wallioth, IV T E , 223 
"War Communism,” 53, crisis of, 59, 
62 

War scare of 1927. 215 
Weizsacker, Ernst von, 308 
VViedcnfeld, Kurt. 68, 70, 71, 74. 75, 
82. 84 
Wiehl, 285 

Wirth. Dr Joseph. 67. 74. 80. 81, 82, 
90. 174. 201 205 
IV'oIff, Otto, 172 173 
Wrangcl. Baron 56 

Yakubovich, 66 
Yegorov. Chief of Staff, 271 
Yoffe, Adolf, 19n , 167 
Young plan. 258 

Yugoslavia, treaty with USSR, 1941, 
526 527 

Zetiirale Moskau. 19S 197. 207 
Zeikin Klara, 255 
Zhigunov, NKVD official, 281 S82 
Zinovyev, Crigon, 117, 156 
Zbrgiebei, police chief, 228